FAIRBANKS — An Alaska artist has been indicted on 28 counts related to the illegal selling and exporting of animal parts, including seal claws, wolf bones, walrus ivory and polar bear teeth.
The most serious accusations against Miles Martin, who runs a website in which he sells a mixture of crafted art and raw materials, are 22 charges of illegally shipping raw animal parts out of the United States in violation of the Convention of International Trade in Endangered Species and the Endangered Species Act, the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner reported.
The shipments, which included wolf teeth, lynx claws, Walrus tusks and other parts, started in May 2009 and ran for two years. They were sent to Argentina, Belgium, Italy, Japan, the United Kingdom and elsewhere, according to the indictment.
Martin’s arraignment is scheduled for Jan. 18. His public defender, Jim Hackett, declined comment as a matter of policy.
The charges come nearly two years after Martin’s Nenana home was searched by law enforcement officials in a larger investigation that netted three people who planned on selling hundreds of pounds of walrus tusks.
Among the allegations, Martin is accused of violating the Marine Mammal Protection Act for selling or offering for sale 20 seal claws, three polar bear teeth, polar bear fur and a seal tooth, which was advertised as a whale tooth.
The act forbids the transportation, sale or purchase of any marine mammal, marine mammal part or product for anything but public display, scientific research or enhancing the survival of the species. It allows some Alaska Native groups to take and possess marine mammal parts for subsistence or for creating and selling handicrafts, but they can’t sell the raw materials.
• Information from: Fairbanks (Alaska) Daily News-Miner, http://www.newsminer.com