Target: U.S. Department of Justice
Goal: Give maximum possible penalty to Americans who illegally purchased narwhal tusks
The narwhal, a small, gentle whale native to arctic waters, is known as the “unicorn of the sea.” Males are easily identifiable by the giant overgrown tooth, or tusk, that grows from the front of their heads. These tusks can reach over eight feet long and have intricate spiraled edges.
While the narwhals’ tusks are unique and beautiful, they unfortunately make the animal a popular hunting target. Collectors all over the world pay up to $7,000 dollars for one of the tusks, and demand is growing. The tusks are used to make cups and piano keys, but most buyers simply want them for decoration.
Although the narwhal population is currently steady, the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) lists them as “near threatened.” Climate change, warming oceans, and ice melt are decreasing their habitats and reducing their food sources. If they are also over-hunted, they will soon become endangered.
Thankfully, the importation and sale of narwhal tusks is forbidden in many western countries, including the United States. However, the illegal trade continues. For nearly a decade, authorities were tracking two Canadians who routinely smuggled tusks across the American border and sold them to unknown buyers. Police estimate that nearly 150 tusks were sold by the Canadians, but the buyers remained at large.
That is, until recently, when the case was cracked and two Americans were arrested. Andrew Zarauskas of Union, New Jersey, and Jay Conrad of Lakeland, Tennessee were indicted for illegally purchasing the smuggled narwhal tusks. The two men now face jail time and thousands of dollars in fines.
Narwhals are gentle, peaceful creatures that do nothing to hurt humans. They should be respected and protected, not hunted for their tusks. Urge the Department of Justice to give these men the maximum penalty available.
Dear U.S. Department of Justice,
The narwhal is a gentle, beautiful whale that is native to the Arctic Ocean. The males have large tusks that protrude from their heads, and these tusks make them a popular target for hunters. While their numbers are currently steady, climate change is a serious threat to narwhals. If they are also over-hunted, these whales will soon become endangered.
Thankfully, it is illegal to import narwhal tusks into the United States. This ban ensures that Americans do not add to the growing global demand for whale products. However, citizens like Andrew Zarauskas and Jay Conrad do not abide by federal laws. As you know, these two men imported narwhal tusks form Canada for nearly a decade, and they paid several thousand dollars for each item.
I urge you to prosecute these two criminals to the fullest extent. Americans must be aware that narwhals, as well as other wild animals, cannot be slaughtered and sold to the highest bidder. These two men must serve jail time and pay the maximum fine.
[Your Name Here]
Photo credit: Ethan Hein via Flickr