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Ivory in the Arctic

Walrus

 

WWF often communicates about ivory in our efforts to end unsustainable poaching of elephants for their tusks. In these communications pieces, WWF is referring to elephant ivory when using the term "ivory," unless otherwise specified. WWF tries to make this clear, but recognizes the word "ivory" refers to material from several species in addition to elephants, including mastodon and mammoth tusks, hippopotamus teeth, narwhal tusks, and walrus tusks. These types of ivory are exempt from the US federal elephant ivory ban, and it is legal for Alaskan indigenous people to hunt walrus and sell walrus ivory carvings.* Many remote coastal communities in Alaska depend on walrus for food. Walrus are culturally and economically important for these communities, and the tusks are often carved into jewelry and artwork. Alaska's walrus population is co-managed by the Eskimo Walrus Commission and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. WWF encourages decision makers to contact these co-management entities prior to enacting any legislation affecting use and sale of walrus ivory. 

*Marine Mammal Protection Act 1972, Sec. 119