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Anchorage, Alaska – United States Attorney Karen L. Loeffler and Ryan Noel, Special Agent in Charge, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Alaska Region announced on Wednesday that an investigation has been opened concerning the deaths of 25 walrus, including calves, that were reported to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service on September 16th.
The report was followed up on on September 18th and an investigation has been opened. The Department of Justice stated that as a result of the opening of that investigation, they will have no further comments in order to protect the integrity of the case.
In their statement on Wednesday, U.S. Attorney Loeffler said:
The taking of marine mammals is prohibited by the Marine Mammal Protection act, with certain exceptions, including the non-wasteful take for subsistence purposes by Alaska Natives living along the coast. Pacific Walruses make up an important part of the diet of many coastal Alaska Natives. Tusks, bones, and hides are used to make authentic Native Alaskan handicrafts, as well as many of the items necessary to continue a subsistence way of life. For example, walrus hides are occasionally used for covers for wooden boat frames and tusks were traditionally used for harpoon points, fish hooks and knives.
The dead walrus were discovered along the coast near Cape Lisburne, which is situated approximately 40 miles from the community of Point Hope. The report stated that some of the animals were missing tusks.