The biggest misconception that we hear or read about is that "all ivory is ILLEGAL to own, buy or sell". If you believe this statement then I will be selling a beautiful bridge, located in New York, on EBAY next week... no reserve! In the next few paragraphs I have put together a simple summary of the INTERNATIONAL and U.S.FISH & WILDLIFE laws which regulate the commerce of ivory, which in turn is regulated by C.I.T.E.S. (Convention on the International Trade in endangered Species) and the 'Marine Mammal Protection Act'. C.I.T.E.S. is an organization that was formed in 1973 as a multinational protege of the United Nations to meet every 2 years to review data and set quotas to maintain levels of protection on species of both plant and animal. Here's what they say on regulation of ivories:
AFRICAN ELEPHANT: This is on the C.I.T.E.S. endangered species list. The importation, selling and buying of this ivory IS NOT ALLOWED INTERNATIONALLY. It cannot be exported or imported to the U.S. and most of the countries delegated to the U.N., BUT... it is LEGAL TO OWN, SELL, BUY, or SHIP within the boundaries of the U.S. and there are NO PERMITS or REGISTRATION requirements! *The majority of african elephant ivory is "old estate" ivory that was brought into this country since its' inception.
ASIAN ELEPHANT : Also on the C.I.T.E.S. Endangered species list and is ILLEGAL to buy, trade, sell, import or export anywhere internationally or INTERSTATE within the U.S.
MAMMOTH/MASTEDON: These are two distinctively different animals for one thing but the ivory is difficult to distinguish between the two. These mammals are extinct and were on this earth 10 to 40,000 years ago so this ivory is COMPLETELY UNRESTRICTED! Distinguishing the difference between Mammoth/Mastedon ivory and Elephant ivory is determined by the angles where the cross grain lines bisect each other. Angles greater than 120% indicate elephant ivory and angles less than 90% indicate Mammoth/Mastedon ivory. Other distinctions include the color of the inner layers of the ivory and the outer layer referred to as the 'bark'.
HIPPO/WARTHOG: These species are protected but not endangered. Because of over population and a danger to humans, these animals are legally hunted by regulation for 'cull' purposes. Permits and documentation are required for importing or exporting this ivory but once it is in the U.S., NO PERMITS OR DOCUMENTS ARE NECESSARY to buy or sell interstate.
SPERM WHALE: An endangered species and regulated since 1973 by The Marine Mammal Protection Act. NO IMPORTATION/EXPORTATION PERIOD! Interstate sales of REGISTERED PRE-ACT teeth with SCRIMSHAW is allowed under a special Federal Permit. Unregistered pre-act teeth can NO LONGER BE REGISTERED and CANNOT BE TRANSPORTED across interstate lines for commercial purposes. THEY CAN BE SOLD 'INTRASTATE' so long as STATE LAW does not prohibit it!
ANTIQUE (100 YRS +) Scrimshaw Teeth can be sold Interstate.
BOWHEAD WHALE: Protected Period! It is LEGAL TO SELL via an exemption allowing ESKIMOS to hunt whales and then sell their crafts made from them.
WALRUS: They have been regulated since 1972 under the Marine Mammal Protection Act and reguated by the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service. The ivory that pre-dates the 12-21-1972 Law which bears the Alaska State walrus registration tags or post-law ivory that HAS BEEN CARVED OR SCRIMSHAWED BY AN ALASKAN NATIVE (Eskimo) is legal to buy , sell, and own. Any ivory that was/is obtained after 12-21-1972 IS NOT LEGAL TO BUY OR SELL UNLESS" both parties are Eskimo... BUT, it is LEGAL TO OWN. Permits are required(as to the laws above) to export the ivory out of the U.S.
FOSSIL WALRUS IVORY: No restictions. It is LEGAL TO BUY, SELL AND OWN anywhere in the U.S. The exportation of this ivory DOES require a permit.
THE ABOVE INCLUDES ANY AND ALL PARTS OF SUCH ANIMALS STATED