The US Fish and Wildlife Service is investigating the deaths of 25 Pacific walruses found on an isolated northwest Alaska beach. A person connected to an Air Force radar station in the remote area spotted the animals and notified the agency this week. The animals included 12 pups, and some were missing their heads and tusks.The cause of death has not been determined, said Fish and Wildlife Service spokeswoman Andrea Medeiros, and investigators do not want to speculate. "We can't come to any conclusions based on a report," she said. "You have to go out and investigate."
Only Alaska Natives who live in the state may hunt walrus for subsistence or for the creation of handicrafts or clothing. The missing heads and tusks don't necessarily indicate illegal activity, Medeiros noted. The animals could have died in the ocean and washed ashore, she said. Federal regulations allow anyone to collect bones, teeth, and ivory of dead marine mammals found on beaches or land within a quarter-mile of the ocean, though they must follow certain rules. Walrus skulls with tusk attached are collectors' items. The ivory often is carved and made into jewelry. (Read more walruses stories.)