Wolf Song of Alaska News

Board OKs Art Use of Animal Parts

Subsistence: Decision puts federal rules in line with state's.

Alex deMarban / Anchorage Daily News May 21, 2006


The Federal Subsistence Board voted unanimously last week to let subsistence hunters sell nonedible parts of wildlife -- such as claws, sinew, bones and fur -- if they turn them into artwork first.

Under the new law, residents will be able to sell handicrafts made from parts of nearly all animals killed under federal subsistence laws, federal managers said.

The only exception is handicrafts made from brown bears killed in most parts of the state.

The decision will let artists, for example, sell antler-bead necklaces fashioned from caribou killed under federal subsistence laws. The bones, fur antlers or other parts must be substantially modified, such as by sewing, scrimshawing or painting, in order to be considered a handicraft.

It brings federal subsistence law on handicraft sales in line with state subsistence law, said Dan LaPlant with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service's Office of Subsistence Management.

Effective July 1, the new law is another step toward loosening restrictions that once prevented people from making money off subsistence-caught animals, said chairwoman Judy Gottlieb.

The board agreed four years ago to let subsistence fishermen sell small amounts of fish, but not as part of a significant commercial enterprise, said Gottlieb, an official with the National Park Service.

And in January, the board loosened the law to let artists sell nonedible parts of fish and shellfish in artwork, Gottlieb said. Kodiak Island artists wanted to sell salmon-skin wallets.

Such sales were prevented because the board was afraid that commercializing subsistence would lead to a rise in illegal take, Gottlieb said. It did not, she said.

The new law will make it easier for artists who sometimes don't know if bones or fur can legally be used, said Sue Entsminger, a Tok-area artist who buys furs from trappers to make hats and parka ruffs for sale.

Daily News reporter Alex deMarban can be reached at ademarban@adn.com or 257-4310.

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