Alaska State Legislature urges Congress to address state ivory bans

Walrus ivory carvings and masks on display at Maruskiya’s in Nome, in July, 2016. Alaska Native artists who use legal walrus, mammoth and mastodon say that broad ivory bans passed by other states make it more difficult to sell their work. (Photo by Emily Russell/KNOM)

The Alaska State Legislature passed a resolution on Monday urging Congress to take action to protect the ability of Alaska Native artists to sell work made from legal ivory. The resolution asks Congress to pass federal legislation that would explicitly allow possession and trade of products made with legal walrus, mammoth and mastodon.

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The resolution takes aim at state laws like those in New York, California, Hawaii and Washington. Those states have passed broad anti-ivory laws in an attempt to combat the poaching of African elephants.

The laws have had unintended consequences for Alaska Native artists, who say the bans make it difficult to sell art made from legal Alaska ivory.

Copies of the resolution will be sent to President Trump, Vice President Pence and Congressional leaders.

U.S. Senator Dan Sullivan introduced a bill back in October that would limit state powers to ban walrus and mammoth ivory.

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