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trafficking walrus tusks

Gallery owner charged with trafficking walrus tusks

trafficking walrus tusks
Walrus cows and yearlings resting on ice. Image by Joel Garlich-Miller, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) — The owner of a downtown Anchorage gallery was accused of illegally purchasing and selling walrus tusk ivory and tax evasion stemming from 2017, federal prosecutors said.

Walter Earl, 75, faces up to five years in prison and multiple $250,000 fines after he was charged Thursday with four felonies in federal court, including three Lacey Act violations, Anchorage Daily News reported.

The Lacey Act was passed in 1990 and prohibits the sale of wildlife or wildlife products taken or possessed in violation of state or foreign law. It is legal to hunt walrus in Alaska, but only by Alaska natives for subsistence and can only be sold to other natives.

Earl owns The Antique Gallery, which has sold military antiques, estate jewelry, rare firearms, Alaska native art and other historical curiosities for the last 30 years.

Prosecutors have accused Earl of illegally purchasing more than 50 walrus ivory tusks and selling walrus head mounts, which include the skull with ivory tusks, on three different occasions.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service removed what appeared to be massive whale vertebrae and walrus skull and tusks in November 2017 where the gallery is located, wildlife officials said.

At the time, Assistant U.S. Attorney Aunnie Steward confirmed a federal investigation was under way but did not release any further details or information about the case.

Steward is now prosecuting the case against Earl.

Earl declined to comment on the charges against him when reached by phone.


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trafficking walrus tusks