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View Full Version : Removing Mammoth Tusk from BLM Land Nets $100,000 Fine



Steve Herschbach
09-29-2012, 09:17 AM
From Fairbanks Daily News-Miner at http://newsminer.com/view/full_story/20308591/article-Alaska-guide-fined-for-smuggled-mammoth-tusk-?instance=home_news_window_left_bullets

Alaska guide fined for smuggled mammoth tusk

by Staff Report
03:25 PM, Friday, September 28

FAIRBANKS — A respected Alaska river guide who pleaded guilty to helping a wealthy client smuggle a 10,000-year-old woolly mammoth tusk out of Alaska during a trip in the Brooks Range almost five years ago was sentenced in federal court in Anchorage earlier this month.

Karen Ann Jettmar, 61, of Anchorage, must pay a $30,000 fine and is on probation for three years. She was sentenced on Sept. 13 but the Alaska attorney general’s office didn’t announce it until Friday.

As part of her probation, Jettmar, author of “The Alaska River Guide — Canoeing, Kayaking and Rafting in the Last Frontier” and owner of Equinox Wilderness Expeditions, must stop guiding for three years, return the tusk she collected illegally in 2009, and post a warning on her business website that it is illegal on all state, federal and privately owned lands to remove any objects of pre-historic, historic, archeological, or cultural interest without a permit or authorization.

The court also ordered Jettmar to remove from her business website anything that could cause customers to expect they might collect such objects while on guided tours.

Jettmar, a former National Park Service ranger, struck a plea deal in May, three days before her trial was scheduled to begin in Fairbanks. She was indicted by a federal grand jury in December on charges of conspiracy and removing paleontological resources from federal land. She pleaded guilty to misdemeanor theft of government property.

The Bureau of Land Management began investigating Jettmar in 2008 because evidence of illegal fossil collecting was found on her website in the form of a picture of a frequent customer holding a mammoth tusk worth $4,000 taken from the Kokolik River in Northwest Alaska in 2007, according to the signed plea agreement.

During summer 2009, BLM sent an undercover agent to book a spot on one of Jettmar’s trips on the Utukok River, along with the client who had obtained the tusk.

During the trip, Jettmar made incriminating statements such as telling the client it was good he had his tusk back in Pennsylvania because he “would not want BLM coming after him,” according to the plea agreement. Agents later searched the client’s house and seized the tusk.

The client, Robert Franz, pleaded guilty in May in Philadelphia’s federal court to conspiracy to defraud the United States and theft of government property. He was fined $100,000.

Bob(AK)
09-29-2012, 07:22 PM
"it is illegal on all state, federal and privately owned lands to remove any objects of pre-historic, historic, archeological, or cultural interest without a permit or authorization"

I don't think this is correct. Sounds like the new regs they tried to impose on us a while back--they got shot down

Damon41
09-30-2012, 12:04 AM
Can't be correct. There is a T.V. show about detectors contacting land owners to search for historical items. They then sell and split the proceeds with land owner.

geowizard
09-30-2012, 07:31 AM
Does "fossils" include plant fossils? There are fossils for sale every weekend at park and swaps all over the country.

There are 1,362 fossil bones advertised on eBay for sale.

- Geowizard

Steve Herschbach
09-30-2012, 08:04 AM
Just letting you guys know this happened. It is real. Vertebrate fossil from federal land. It can also apply to private land without prior written permission. Federal law then overrides private property rights. Legal precedent; Gerber case.

I put this on the mining forum as finding mammoth fossils is not uncommon in Alaska. On federal land at least it could cost you big to take it home. I do not think the same is true on state land but have not verified that.

geowizard
09-30-2012, 08:40 AM
Steve,

It's good that this was brought to the forum.

It's an example of selective prosecution. The laws of the land apply to everyone equally.

If you look at it from the standpoint of the BLM or the State, those items belong them. Yes, we supposedly "own" the lands; the government has been enlisted (it was decided by Congress) by us to be stewards (or managers as in BLM) of the land. As users of the lands, there isn't anything written anywhere that gives a "right" to remove items of antiquity, or archaeological finds including fossil bones from Federal and State lands. There are Federal and State laws on the subject.

A State Reference: http://dnr.alaska.gov/parks/oha/archsurv/archregs.pdf

- Geowizard

Bob(AK)
09-30-2012, 08:50 AM
More info,

It is illegal to collect fossils or artifacts in national parks, Alaska State Parks, and National Wildlife Refuges without a permit.

Bureau of Land Management-Owned Land
Plant Fossils: You may collect plant fossils
Remains of ancient plants are found throughout much of Alaska. While it is permissible to collect small samples on most public lands, you are advised to check with federal or state offices that manage the lands where you want to collect to find out what restrictions apply. If you wish to hunt plant fossils on private land, be sure to obtain the owner’s permission first. It is illegal to sell your plant fossil taken from federal or state land. Fossils of rare plants are scientifically important and may require a special paleontological collecting permit. Plant fossils may NOT be bartered or sold.

Invertebrate Fossils: You may collect invertebrate fossils.
Invertebrate are animals without skeletal structures, such as insects, crabs, clams, and snails. Generally, you may collect fossils of common invertebrates in small quantities, but check local restrictions first. It is illegal to sell your invertebrate fossil finds taken from federal or state land. Fossils of invertebrates that are rare, and are scientifically important for research projects, may require a special paleontological collecting permit. Invertebrate fossils may NOT be bartered or sold.

Artifacts: You may NOT collect artifacts.
Unless you are issued a permit for scientific research, you may not collect any artifacts--ancient or historical--on federal or state lands. This includes arrowheads, pottery, pot shards, old bottles, pieces of equipment, and buildings. These items are part of our national heritage and researchers are still learning much from them. Human burial remains on both public and private land are protected from collection by federal and Alaska state law.

Vertebrate fossils: You may NOT collect vertebrate fossils.
You cannot collect or sell vertebrate fossils from federal or state land without a federal or state permit. Vertebrates include dinosaurs, mammals, sharks, fish, and any other animals with a skeletal structure. Included with vertebrate fossils, collection of the following is strictly prohibited: burrows, bones, teeth, footprints, and other traces of activity.

Who may get a permit?
Permits are issued for scientific research. They are given to people with specific qualifications that include related college education and experience. Permit holders must also have a letter from a federal or state agency-approved facility accepting collected fossils or artifacts for scientific study and public display. All collected items must be placed in the facility and cannot be kept by the collector.

Old Radio Tech
09-30-2012, 08:56 AM
and...The Archaeological Resources Protection Act (ARPA, 16
U.S.C. 470cc:) exempts the collection of coins for
personal use if the coins are not in an archaeological context. In some cases, historically
significant coins and other metallic artifacts may be part of an historical-period
archaeological site, in which case they would be considered archaeological resources and
are protected under law. These laws apply to all National Forest System land and do not
vary from state to state.

Marshall/Ak
09-30-2012, 09:24 AM
This comes as a surprise to me...I was under the impression that all fossil ivory was fair game. How is it that our lawmakers can make a law, and nobody knows about it until someone gets fined big bucks?

Old Radio Tech
09-30-2012, 10:12 AM
and...The Archaeological Resources Protection Act (ARPA, 16
U.S.C. 470cc:) exempts the collection of coins for
personal use if the coins are not in an archaeological context. In some cases, historically
significant coins and other metallic artifacts may be part of an historical-period
archaeological site, in which case they would be considered archaeological resources and
are protected under law. These laws apply to all National Forest System land and do not
vary from state to state.

tenderfootminer
09-30-2012, 01:25 PM
been that way since I can remember. Not right but its the law:(

KelvinG
10-03-2012, 08:31 AM
Steve,
Thanks for posting this info. Obviously things and changed since I asked State of Alaska DNR about this. At that time, 15 years or so ago, I was told I could not collect artifacts, but everything else was ok. Artifacts were defined as anything manmade or man modified. Specifically we were asking about mammoth teeth on State land. We were told as long as it hadn’t been carved on, it was fine.

Thanks again

geowizard
10-04-2012, 05:06 PM
A related news story...

http://www.grindtv.com/outdoor/blog/35714/texas+angler+goes+fishing+ends+up+discovering+poss ible+mastodon+tooth/

- Geowizard