It appears that dozens of walruses were shot dead off the coast of Alaska, near Cape Lisburne. The United States Fish and Wildlife Service received an email, which contained photos of the dead walruses. The photo showed 25 dead walruses, and some of them were decapitated. This included a dozen dead baby walruses, according to AOL.
There is a chance that the walruses were killed for their ivory. This is because many of them didn’t have their tusks. If that’s the case, then that is illegal under federal law. Under federal law, walruses can only be slaughtered in a non-wasteful manner by Alaska natives only.
According to Knom, hunting walruses solely for ivory is illegal under the 1972 Marine Mammal Protection Act. However, if people find dead walruses on the beach, then they are allowed to take their heads.
The death of the walruses was reported by a resident that has connections to an Air Force radar station that is located in the area. Asides from some of them not having their tusks, there were a few walruses that were riddled with bullet holes, according to the Daily Times Gazette.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service said that they are investigating the incident and until the investigation is completed, it will not make any conclusions. A spokesperson for the agency said that just because the walruses were missing tusks does not mean that they died as a result of illegal activity. The spokesperson added that the walruses could have died while they were in the ocean.
On Thursday, the agency launched its investigation into the deaths of the walruses, and since then it has collected data. The investigators wanted to examine the walruses before scavengers came along to pick at their carcasses.
One subsistence hunter said that this was stuff that they don’t tolerate. He continued to say that if the walruses were shot and their heads were gone, then someone was doing something they shouldn’t. The hunter said that the walruses have always been a food source and he and others were taught to never waste. He added that they just want to find out exactly what happened to the walruses.
The Eskimo Walrus Commission, which is based out of Nome, is working alongside the Fish and Wildlife on the investigation.
This incident is another setback for walruses. Walruses have been forced to take refuge on land instead of ice, and this could be due to climate change.
[Image by U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service/Public Domain]