From ANIMAL PEOPLE, August/September 1996:

ANCHORAGE–– Indigenous
Alaskans killed at least 1,200 walruses this
spring, says the U.S. Fish and Wildlife
Service, in a headhunting binge likely to
have lasting repercussions. Indigenous
hunters may kill as many walruses as they
want, but must use the whole carcass.
Responding to reports of headless carcasses
drifting ashore, the USFWS in May charged
two hunters with waste, for bringing 18 adult
walrus heads with tusks back to their village,
along with 19 whole walrus calves, but only
150 to 300 pounds of meat. In mid-June the
USFWS issued posters offering $1,000 for
information leading to the arrest and conviction
of other alleged headhunters.

Friends of Animals president
Priscilla Feral, long critical of federal walrus
management, wrote on June 19 to Interior
Secretary Bruce Babbitt, “ A full decade ago,
the late Clark Bavin issued a report indicating
his grave concern over walrus hunting. From
our perspective, the situation remains the
same. Walrus poaching is out of control, and
very little is being done about it. FoA strongly
recommends that the U.S. propose listing
the walrus on Appendix II of the Convention
on International Trade in Endangered
Species. “We have recommended this in the
past, but have been refused. Politics has
overruled reality. Walrus ivory is in international
trade. Without a CITES listing, there
is no way to monitor it, even in countries
which have relatively good CITES controls.
Further, the walrus population is less than
that of some CITES Appendix I animals.”
FoA documented a similar massacre
in 1990. In the interim, the killing may
have been held down by the presence in the
Arctic of capture teams from Marine World
Africa USA, the New York Aquarium, and
the Indianapolis Zoo, which have hired
native hunters to bring back orphaned walrus
pups alive. Marine World marine mammal
curator Terry Samansky told ANIMAL
PEOPLE in early 1995 that the captures save
walrus lives both because the pups would otherwise
be left to starve and because the work
keeps hunters otherwise occupied during
much of the killing season.

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