Bows with Ivory tips in danger?

March 2, 2014 at 09:26 PM · From Josh Henry

Please read this if you play a stringed instrument. There is new legislation that affects you:

It is not illegal to own, sell, or maintain bows with ivory--until now.

Please read U.S. Department of the Interior Director’s Order 210, 2/11/2014 (3 pages)

http://www.fws.gov/policy/do210.pdf

Here is Appendix 1 of Director’s Order 210 (5 pages)

http://www.fws.gov/policy/do210A1.pdf

Here is the Q&A for Director’s Order 210 (7 pages)

http://www.fws.gov/international/pdf/directors-order-210-questions-and-answers.pdf

Many violin, viola, cello, and bass bows have genuine ivory tip plates that are original, and some even have frogs of ivory, but having been made in the 20th century are not considered antique (defined by legislation as 100 years old). I regularly use pre-CITES banned elephant ivory (pre-1976) in the restoration of important and historic bows, and Many bows that are more modern contain "mammoth ivory," "fossil ivory," or even bone rather than elephant ivory, but customs officials are largely ignorant of the differences and identification, and the burden of proof is placed on the possessor of the item. So a mammoth tipped bow, while legal, would need proof that it is not elephant ivory.

What this means, however, is that ANY musician with a bow containing any form of ivory, risks that bow being confiscated and immediately destroyed by customs officials upon crossing the US border. I don't want to be alarmist, but I would hate to see an unaware traveler have their property seized.

I (and other bow makers and restorers) do work with CITES-controlled species such as ivory, tortoise shell, baleen, some species of pearl shell and leather, and now even the pernambuco and ebony that the bows are made from are on the CITES list as endangered or threatened. As a specialist that makes and maintains bows, I currently work within the rules of this country, but with this rule change, just maintaining a bow by replacing a broken tip plate or even selling an old bow with an ivory tip plate could be considered “trafficking in endangered species” and subject to jail and enormous fines. This new legislation could end my career, and hinder the career of many musicians. While I have supported conservations efforts and anti-poaching initiatives, and am absolutely appalled by the slaughter of wildlife for sourcing these materials, this new legislation is far too broad-reaching and will affect the daily movement of musicians and violin shops.

There needs to be control and action when it comes to endangered species, but there also needs to be learning, education, and common sense on the part of the enforcers and the public. It is too soon to tell how this new legislation will affect things for musicians, bow makers, and dealers of bows. However, it sure sounds like the U.S. Department of the Interior is taking the approach that it can confiscate and destroy anything with ivory and then fine and jail anybody that has it. This is not good!

Replies (48)

March 3, 2014 at 03:07 AM · If you need to travel overseas with bows that have ivory parts, have a bow maker replace those parts replaced with material that is obviously not ivory such as plastic or wood. Save and store any ivory frogs. When the interior department comes to its senses, switch them back. Sorry but as much as I would like to agree with you, I don't see an alternative.

March 3, 2014 at 04:44 PM · There is always a inherent danger in tip plate removal as in an invasive medical procedure. Do you really want to have the tip of your Sartory replaced with plastic and then back to ivory because of the whims of many different and uninformed government agencies? Many of us believe this to be a "Throw out the Baby" cost cutting measure to make life easier for border inspectors and make training for such jobs less problematic at the expense of the musical profession.

March 3, 2014 at 05:14 PM · The new regulations are a ban on commercial trade in ivory. It doesn't make it illegal to own ivory if you already do. However, you will have to acquire the proper documentation to show that your ivory fits the definition of legal.

The U.S. banned the import of ivory in 1989, but the USFWS made several exemptions that made it possible to sell ivory domestically. Those exemptions are now being reversed. The problem is that when there are exemptions and some ivory becomes “legal” there is no way to tell if it was poached or not. The existence of "legal" ivory fuels demand and masks the illegal trade in ivory from killed elephants. Do bow tips really need to be made of ivory or is it a status thing?

The USFWS is reversing its exemptions because the situation is so critical. In 2006 the population estimate for African elephants was approximately 600,000 and today it is estimated at less than 400,000. That is one-third of the wild African elephant population killed in less than ten years. At this rate elephants will be extinct in the wild in less than 20 years. The people doing the shooting use the money to fund terrorism. It has been reported that the mall bombing in Kenya was financed in part by the illegal ivory trade. Park rangers in Africa’s national parks routinely have firefights with poachers and many have died.

Going forward, ivory just should not be used in musical instruments. I know it has historical significance, but these days, it is just not possible to obtain elephant ivory that does not somehow support or incentivize poaching. The string world would help elephants if everyone agreed to no longer use ivory in their instruments.

Those that have ivory in their musical instruments will have to get validations that it is legal according to the terms listed here:

http://www.fws.gov/international/travel-and-trade/ivory-ban-questions-and-answers.html#7

If you can afford a Sartory bow, then you can spend the time to get the documentation that it is legal according to CITES.

I would argue that the Department of Interior finally has come to its senses. These actions should have been implemented back in 1989.

March 3, 2014 at 07:32 PM · Can I ask for clarification?

If your bow can be dated as antique, and the ivory fittings certified as original by a reputed expert, would that meet the new requirements?

March 3, 2014 at 07:45 PM · Rachel, as I understand it, the problem may be more that many bows made in the last 100 years, with legal original ivory tips, may now be illegal to buy and sell across state lines, not to mention international borders. I'm not even sure it's legal to "work" this now illegal ivory to replace it with a substitute.

March 4, 2014 at 01:56 AM · Whatever its historical significance, maybe the time is here for owners to have the ivory tips replaced for good. The ivory ones crack and chip with some frequency and have to be replaced anyway. The use of mammoth ivory has the disadvantage that it maintains the mystique--it's still ivory, albeit from extinct species. We should all just give up on ivory. I'd rather have elephants around than ivory-tipped bows. We used to have bows with real whalebone wrappings, too. It was an excellent material, but it disappeared from the violin trade and time marched on for the better.

March 4, 2014 at 02:05 AM · Frederick, can you assure us that it's legal to perform work on this "illegal" ivory? If it can legally removed, can it be thrown in the trash, or does it need to be sent to an official government crushing station, or what?

"I'd rather have elephants around than ivory-tipped bows."

Huh? Like this is the choice????

I don't think ivory bow tips were ever a significant player in the ivory trade, any more than bow sticks have had an impact on pernambuco depletion. The vast majority of pernambuco gets burned while clearing forests to make way for cattle ranches (beef) and sugar cane plantations (ethanol fuel).

Before defaulting to non-researched "feel-good" solutions, please take a brief moment to look at Brazil's economic realities, including export.

March 4, 2014 at 09:03 PM · I've had a 1700s piano with bone naturals, and one with Ivory, you can hardly tell the difference from a distance, maybe one yellows quicker than the other, I'm not sure which, the grain on bone does look different so I don't think customs would be fooled into thinking its ivory, I suggest bone If you're going to be traveling internationally.

March 4, 2014 at 10:02 PM · First disclaimer: I'm not a lawyer and I don't work for or represent USFWS, although I know people there working on this issue that I can ask about stuff. I've reviewed the explanation of the new regulations on the website:

http://www.fws.gov/international/travel-and-trade/ivory-ban-questions-and-answers.html#7

And it looks to me like:

If a U.S. musician currently owns a bow or an instrument with ivory in it, they can keep it, although they will have to get a "musical instrument passport" if they are traveling internationally. However they would not be able to legally sell their instrument or bow (unless it meets the definition of antique).

So no need to worry about Sartorys or Tourtes but bows that do not meet the definition of antique and still have African elephant ivory in them cannot be sold. Or they would have to be modified to remove the ivory.

If you had African elephant ivory lying around that you were planning on using, it is illegal to sell it now.

Mammoth ivory is still OK.

You are right, bowtips are not the reason elephants are going extinct but legal ivory masks and serves as a cover for the illegal trade. The U.S. is the second largest market for smuggled ivory after China. All the exceptions in the current regulations make it difficult to differentiate legal from illegal. I imagine prosecution is difficult because its hard to prove the ivory is from poached elephants. That’s why the exceptions are being reversed.

I don't know what the best way to dispose of ivory is. I'll ask the USFWS about it. How much do you think is out there? How many non-antique bows and violins do you think have African elephant ivory in them? (I know you can't give me a number, but I'm just wondering very generally...hundreds, thousands....). How much of a financial hit is this for you? Were luthiers and archetiers using a lot of African elephant ivory prior to this new regulation?

March 4, 2014 at 11:27 PM · Thousands needing new non ivory tip plus rehair, sounds like a lot of work for struggling archetiers!!!

March 5, 2014 at 01:35 AM · I took another look at the USFWS website and I probably should have said that Sartorys and Tourtes would probably qualify as antiques, I don't know for sure. There are 4 criteria they would have to meet to qualify as antiques under the ESA. Also the USFWS says they are "clarifying the definition of antique" and will issue a final rule in June.

My original intent in posting was just to make the point that the situation with elephants is really a crisis and that these are actions are really necessary to prevent them from going extinct in the wild. I don't really want to interpret regulations.

As for what to do with the ivory.....what about crushing it at a bowmakers conference or something? It would be good PR for bowmakers and a statement of solidarity with the elephant conservation crowd (which includes all the rangers that defend elephants from poachers, sometimes with their lives) The Kenyans burned all the tusks they had confiscated from poachers in 1989 to make the statement that ivory wasn't worth anything unless its attached to an elephant's head.

March 5, 2014 at 11:26 AM · "As for what to do with the ivory.....what about crushing it at a bowmakers conference or something?"

___________________

Probably not gonna happen. While most bowmakers and restorers I have talked to are in total support of the cessation of using elephant ivory, they are also quite serious about their role as conservators of existing original objects, and realize that defacing them by removing and replacing original parts, just because these parts have become "politically incorrect", will do nothing to save elephants.

The original post quotes Josh Henry, a bowmaker and restorer, who points out some alarming possible consequences for musicians who own bows with parts even RESEMBLING elephant ivory or tortoise shell. There are plenty of examples of law enforcement seizing suspect items of various kinds, and working out the details later.

March 5, 2014 at 06:44 PM ·

March 5, 2014 at 06:46 PM · Most bow tips are bone and it is virtually indistinguishable from ivory, lets face it if you are not planning to use new ivory which I am totally against just claim it is bone regardless! you will not be harming anyone.

Brian

West Country Violins

March 6, 2014 at 05:19 AM · The problem is not the policy but the vagaries of its enforcement. If a border agent can seize your bow and toss it in a bin marked "contraband" where likely it will be damaged or destroyed, then we have a problem. There is not, as far as I know, a quick test requiring only handheld instrumentation and no training, that will distinguish bone or mammoth ivory from elephant ivory. What we need is a gigantic nature preserve in the US where we can raise elephants and save the species, they are such majestic animals.

March 7, 2014 at 05:19 PM · I disagree. Most tips are not bone: bone is brittle, not easy to bend and often has large ugly pores. It is pretty easy to spot bone, even in peg collars. Most high end archetiers have been using mammoth for the last ten years as the market, quality and availability improved for mammoth. Prior to that bows by individual makers and certainly the great French makers used elephant ivory tips. Hill certainly made many bows with silver plates. This will not only be a hardship for people who made and bought bows in the 1960s 70s and 80s when ivory tips were still sold and used, but will put a major chill in the antique bow market. Many great antique bows were made in the early to mid 20th Century, and these are not considered as such by this ruling. Also there was a provision in 1978 where one could register ivory bought before that date and use it in future work. Most instrument makers had a stash of antique ivory for repairs. This was an honest investment, legal at the time, and supposedly on the up and up. I see no provision for any buy back, just a suggestion that all of these people grind up their formerly legal investments as if craftsmen have money to burn. I hope all of the people with shell jewelry are ready to crush their MOP ear rings, because that is on the horizon. I know of one bow maker who had his old bow confiscated, not because of the pernambuco or ebony, but because of the shell inlays.

March 26, 2014 at 03:05 AM · Just got this email from the president of the AFM - The American Federation of Musicians, i.e. the USA national musicians union:

AFM - American Federation of Musicians of the United States and Canada

March 25, 2014

Dear AFM members:

Many of you have contacted our offices concerning the new Department of Interior-US Fish and Wildlife Service Order that bans the import, export, sale and transfer of ownership of items containing African elephant ivory.

This is to advise you that your union has been fully engaged on this matter from the instant the Obama administration abruptly issued the order released by the Department of the Interior.

As you may know, the entire American arts community has reacted negatively to this new ban that was prompted by President Obama's February 11th announcement that the US will now join the rest of the world in attempting to curb African rhinoceros and elephant poaching in order to discourage illegal trafficking in rhino and elephant tusks, driven in large part by rising demand in China.

Since July 2013, AFM Legislative Director Alfonso Pollard met regularly with US Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) senior staff regarding Convention on International Trade and Endangered Species (CITES) issues as relates to musical instruments. The AFM and related interests have been working CITES senior staff toward a musical passport solution for artists traveling internationally. The meetings have focused on the need for a comprehensive travel permit for instruments made from rare woods and endangered species components.

DURING THOSE MEETINGS, UFWS GAVE NO DETAIL ABOUT THE TIMING OF THE ORDER'S RELEASE ON ELEPHANT IVORY. With the serious implications to the livelihood of professional musicians across the country uppermost in mind, the AFM is currently using its congressional influence to revise the governmental rulemaking process at the highest levels of the federal government.

We want you to know that our highly qualified senior staff is working to resolve this matter before it can have a negative effect upon our industry. Please review the April International Musician Legislative column which is devoted to this matter, and get involved. Sign on to our petition which will coincide with the release of the IM, and most importantly, fill out our AFM survey. The personal information you provide will help your Union move legislators to action. Thank you for your interest and thank you for your membership.

Sincerely,

Raymond M. Hair, Jr., International President

American Federation of Musicians

of the United States and Canada

AFM Website | Edit Member Profile | AFM Facebook | AFM Twitter | AFM YouTube

Copyright © 2014 American Federation of Musicians

1501 Broadway Suite 600 | New York, NY 10036

You're receiving this email because you're a member, officer or otherwise affiliated with the American Federation of Musicians of the United States and Canada. If you've received this email in error or would like unsubscribe to future mailings, click here.

March 26, 2014 at 04:11 AM · Rachel,

Your Tourte is not a problem, but Eugene Sartory died in 1946...

So, now you have your Sartory, and you can't prove that it is 100 years old. I mean, he was established on his own in 1889/90, but how do you prove that YOUR Sartory is one of those that he made before 1913? Further, what if the documentation required by the government simply doesn't exist? Your parents purchased the bow when you were a kid, your parents are no longer with us, the shop/musician they purchased it from is no longer with us, so how do you meet the US Government's demands for documentation?

All of this for just the little headplate. Poor you if you invested in an Ivory and gold mounted LaPierre!

March 26, 2014 at 05:27 AM · Since Mammoth ivory is allegedly legal I'm

organizing a Wooly Mammoth hunt for late Summer

through Winter. Thought we would start the hunt in Upper Siberia working our way back to the States via the Siberia land bridge.

March 26, 2014 at 10:54 AM · Those bureaucrats are simply amazing. Picking on a few miniature pieces of ivory. Before the poachers manage to kill all the elephants, they will be long gone due to the loss of habitat.

March 26, 2014 at 11:46 AM · And why are we guilty until proven innocent?

March 26, 2014 at 01:44 PM · This is the most correct information available at this time and this message has been approved by fish and wildlife.

It is EXTREMELY important that people pass this on to others.

http://www.americanorchestras.org/advocacy-government/travel-with-instruments/endangered-species-material/ivory-ban-impact-on-orchestras.html

March 26, 2014 at 01:59 PM · Silver is not mistaken for Ivory, even by a customs official. Switching to Mammoth or bone, still could cause confusion to the uninformed. (My spell check wanted me to write uniformed, which also works I guess)

Would changing Ivory tips for silver, a la Hill, significantly change the value of an antique bow? I do not think changing the original Ivory for mammoth would do so, but is silver a step too far? Is is more difficult to fit? Does the balance change significantly?

If a bow is having the tip/plate replaced anyway, should this now be something that becomes the norm?

Cheers Carlo

March 26, 2014 at 05:09 PM · So...would they confiscate the entire bow and destroy it? Or just remove that relatively small ivory bit?

April 8, 2014 at 04:51 PM · So I am in the UK and will be until the end of may. It is doubtful that I would be able to get a certificate whilst here. Does this mean that when I arrive on June 1st I’m screwed?

April 15, 2014 at 05:47 PM · -Firstly, getting a passport for a bow is not as easy as they say it is. (especially when your luthier can't even tell what you have)And when I did talk to an agent from US Fish and Wildlife he thought my bow with ivory was a bow and arrow for hunting. (good luck trying to explain that one)

-Secondly, if they (TSA, materials experts) can't tell one species from the next what is to say that I don't have mammoth Ivory and not Elephant?

-Thirdly, who in the hell is checking our bows, nuts, peg boxes? Are all musicians seen in all airports now stopped by TSA and asked to show the tips of their bows etc?

-Fourthly, without carbon dating you can't tell the age (or makeup, therefore)of this material anyway. How is anyone expected to adhere to these stupid rules ESPECIALLY when the bow in question gets destroyed before any carbon dating could be done?!

Also, one more thing... My violin is stuck together using Animal Glue. Does that mean that one day they will take the violin away as well?

Morons

Best,

Eitan

April 15, 2014 at 11:51 PM · No, they're just philistines who hate violins. We need our Davids to band together against them.

April 16, 2014 at 03:36 PM · what is to say that I don't have mammoth Ivory and not Elephant?

In larger pieces it can be differentiated by the annual rings. Small pieces? Forget it. No carbon dating used anyway. This is why there is a move to make ivory substitutes verboten also. The interdiction will not be at TSA ports but at Customs. Fish and Wildlife is the agency in control of endangered species. Sequestering may well be taking it's toll on musicians and luthiers because it is difficult to tell the difference without paying for experts and forensics. There is a legitimate reason to control the use of even small pieces of elephant ivory. There is a significant trade in small ivory carvings that propagate the possible extinction of wild elephants. The use of ivory for bow tips has not seriously effected the demand for ivory in he past but it is being caught up in the well intentioned desire for zero tolerance in trade in ivory. There seems to be plenty enough supply of mammoth tusk to produce modern bow tips until a real, successful alternative is developed. Politicians who write these laws need to become informed of our special unique situation and reasonable exceptions and distinctions need to be included in these regulatory procedures. This is our job.

April 16, 2014 at 04:26 PM · "what is to say that I don't have mammoth Ivory and not Elephant?"

That's just it - we're guilty until proven innocent.

I'm seriously thinking of having the ivory tips on a couple of my bows changed to silver. But I'm worried that the exquisite balance that they have, not be changed by a different weight or density.

I'm also thinking of having the fittings changed on at least one of my violins, as it has white - possibly ivory - trim.

April 17, 2014 at 01:29 AM · By whom and when were the pieces made? That should give you a clue as to the white material.

April 17, 2014 at 03:47 AM · But how are most players to know this? I understand that Bois d'harmonie uses ivory of some kind. What about otherwise nice, but more commercial fittings? Ivory? Plastic? Painted wood? Eric - I see that you make fittings - so what is the answer?

And on a practical level, if a lot of us can't tell, are customs agents going to be able to tell or care to make the effort? Again, guilty until proven innocent. Is there a simple way with a magnifying glass to tell them "look, ivory doesn't look like that"?

April 17, 2014 at 09:24 AM · Either you're against killing elephants, or you want to make excuses why a little bit of killing is OK.....Its the 21st Century, get used to it things are going to be a little different.

April 17, 2014 at 11:09 AM · No one wants to buy my Lappiere...ivory frog...guess im using a coda bow when traveling abroad.

April 17, 2014 at 12:35 PM · The practical point is that you could have bow tips, or violin fittings with white trimmings that are made with mammoth ivory, plastic, an elephant that died of natural causes at a zoo, etc. and the the customs agent may not care, if we can't prove it to his satisfaction - or he may not give us a chance to try to prove it at all. His directive may be 'white bow tip or white peg and tp trimming = contraband = confiscate and destroy.

Another thing I don't understand is this: let's say that a law is passed in 2014 that says no ivory unless you can prove that the bow, ivory and all, was made 100 years ago. If we bought the bow, or the bow was made say 3 years ago, there was no such law then. So why are we penalized? Such a law should be for purchases as of the time the law was passed.

It's also the luck of the draw. The last time I came through customs in the fall of 2011 with my violin, the customs officer asked what I did. I told him that I went to the Cremona Mondo Musica, then off to Venice and Paris to sight see. He then said "Did you have fun?" "oh yes!" I said. "Fine", said he, "off you go!" He didn't even ask me to open my violin case! But we don't want to travel with the possible or probable sword of Damocles hanging over our heads.

April 17, 2014 at 01:04 PM · There were laws in place regarding not using ivory on new instruments/bows for several decades, so no you're not off the hook.

April 17, 2014 at 04:47 PM · The laws on the books had to do with import/export internationally for African species of raw, new ivory. Tip plates on antique bows were not affected by old laws.

No one with any sensibility has used elephant ivory for quite some time.

Distinguishing the difference between Mammoth/Mastodon ivory and Elephant ivory is determined by the angles where the cross grain lines bisect each other. Angles greater than 120% indicate elephant ivory and angles less than 90% indicate Mammoth/Mastodon ivory. Other distinctions include the color of the inner layers of the ivory and the outer layer referred to as the 'bark'.

Mr. Klayman, I have been including with my pegs with mammoth collars a business card, personally guarantying that the material was extinct artifact, not modern ivory. I have quite a few discussions with the Wildlife people about how to register my mammoth so as to have a record of possession and use as a substitute. There was no legal way to do this and no one in the Agency seemed to want to add another layer of paperwork, so the word of the maker was the only method that they could suggest. If you have old Hill fittings with white collars you probably do need to be concerned. Some pegs from the 70's may also have employed elephant ivory as makers used up their supplies of pre-ban ivory. If the presently proposed laws take effect many of the touring Strads and Del Gesus will have to be refitted from their Hill fittings including some of the most famous. I guess that I should perfect my collar replacement skills in axpectation of new business,but, since the Hills used split and recessed collars this is a very tedious and potentially peg damaging process.

April 17, 2014 at 05:50 PM · This is very good info - thanks! But still, my practical concern is the likelihood of trouble at customs, and whether they are willing to even hear someone's reasoned arguments.

I suspect that my fittings on the violin in question are not the real deal. But if they quack enough like a duck to a customs official who doesn't want to be bothered by niceties...

April 17, 2014 at 06:27 PM · Mr. Meyer,

you seem to know quite a bit about how the old makers used to work. What exactly is a split and recessed collar, and why does this make refitting impossible?

This law still doesn't fully make sense to me.

Don't new laws only apply to future sales and purchases?

You must surely remember the laws regarding online Poker accounts. If you had an account that was made before the ban went into effect it was still possible to play for money legally.

Surely this must apply here as well?

I am not afraid of telling customs that my tips are made of plastic and they are wasting their time... Or if I really wanted to be sure I could attach a plastic veneer over the original tips just for the plane ride. Then when customs pulls out their handy dandy magnifying glass out they are met with a "Made in China" stamp.

Another option could be to fly into Canada.

Good day

April 17, 2014 at 08:06 PM · I wrote a paper that was reprinted in the Strad Magazine about the history of Hill pegs. I interviewed William Watson about how he remembered the Hill peg and tailpiece production in the 40's and 50's. The collars on both the black and ivory trimmed pegs were broken in two and glued back together in small recessed mortises in the neck of the pegs. I was incredulous that this was doable with ivory collars since I've never seen ivory glued with no visible glue line. He assured me that this was the method employed however. Also he even told me the brand of glue that was used, manufactured somewhere in London, and not made anymore.

I don't think flying into Canada will work as this is an International effort and I'll bet the laws will be in effect everywhere. My Father had an opium pipe that he came home with after WW11. I wouldn't try to take that across any borders even though it is very ancient. Seriously, untill the Lawmakers are aware of the potential damage this can do to traveling musicians' livelihood and the need for some realistic exemptions on older work, (not just the arbitrary cut off of 1900) there will be an uncertainty in selective scrutiny and confiscation. Want to bet Yo Yo had an ivory tip on his bow when he played at the Inauguration? I can name for you several very famous Strads that are travelling with ivory accented fittings from the Hills.

April 17, 2014 at 08:37 PM · Thanks for your message Eric.

Interesting story, very awesome that you had the chance to do all of that. Congratulations.

As for Yo Yo Ma, wasn't he playing a fake instrument and wasn't that a pre-recorded act?

April 18, 2014 at 08:28 AM · it was his stunt double as well.

April 18, 2014 at 04:11 PM · No No Ma?

I was wondering about the bow. Lots of post 1900 Sartorys out there touring along with the Hill fittings.

May 12, 2014 at 07:27 PM · With all the fuss I've yet to hear of a horror story at US Customs. Does anyone have one?

May 13, 2014 at 02:53 AM · Got this from my union - American fedration of Musicians:

March 25, 2014

Dear AFM members:

Many of you have contacted our offices concerning the new Department of Interior-US Fish and Wildlife Service Order that bans the import, export, sale and transfer of ownership of items containing African elephant ivory.

This is to advise you that your union has been fully engaged on this matter from the instant the Obama administration abruptly issued the order released by the Department of the Interior.

As you may know, the entire American arts community has reacted negatively to this new ban that was prompted by President Obama's February 11th announcement that the US will now join the rest of the world in attempting to curb African rhinoceros and elephant poaching in order to discourage illegal trafficking in rhino and elephant tusks, driven in large part by rising demand in China.

Since July 2013, AFM Legislative Director Alfonso Pollard met regularly with US Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) senior staff regarding Convention on International Trade and Endangered Species (CITES) issues as relates to musical instruments. The AFM and related interests have been working CITES senior staff toward a musical passport solution for artists traveling internationally. The meetings have focused on the need for a comprehensive travel permit for instruments made from rare woods and endangered species components.

DURING THOSE MEETINGS, UFWS GAVE NO DETAIL ABOUT THE TIMING OF THE ORDER'S RELEASE ON ELEPHANT IVORY. With the serious implications to the livelihood of professional musicians across the country uppermost in mind, the AFM is currently using its congressional influence to revise the governmental rulemaking process at the highest levels of the federal government.

We want you to know that our highly qualified senior staff is working to resolve this matter before it can have a negative effect upon our industry. Please review the April International Musician Legislative column which is devoted to this matter, and get involved. Sign on to our petition which will coincide with the release of the IM, and most importantly, fill out our AFM survey. The personal information you provide will help your Union move legislators to action. Thank you for your interest and thank you for your membership.

Sincerely,

Raymond M. Hair, Jr., International President

American Federation of Musicians

of the United States and Canada

AFM Website | Edit Member Profile | AFM Facebook | AFM Twitter | AFM YouTube

Copyright © 2014 American Federation of Musicians

May 13, 2014 at 03:00 AM · And this:

The Honorable Barack Obama

President of the United States

And

Members of the United Stated Congress

Washington, DC

Dear President Obama and Members of Congress:

Director's Order No. 210 released on February 25, 2014 by the United States Department of the Interior US Fish and Wildlife Service prohibiting the sale, import and export of African elephant ivory has placed hundreds of thousands of professional, student, and amateur musicians in an untenable position. As the world’s largest organization representing the interests of more than 80,000 professional musicians, The American Federation of Musicians of the United States and Canada (AFM) has for more than 117 years advocated in Washington, DC on behalf of professional musicians. Our mission has always been to create workable legislative solutions while advocating corrections to legislation or other government actions that may be harmful to artists working within our industry.

Simply stated, the AFM on behalf of its members and non-members alike is concerned that Director’s Order No. 210 was issued without consultation with the professional music community. With stepped up enforcement on the horizon by the Department of the Interior US Fish and Wildlife Service and US Customs and Immigration border agents, musicians are caught in a travel quagmire. This combined with the fact that traveling musicians have no recourse if their instruments are confiscated on the spot at US ports of entry means that the net result could be quite destructive to many people's careers. The Order further complicates the professional lives of American artists who have immediate performance obligations and must travel now. The immediate implementation of this order gives no time for affected traveling artists to successfully navigate the official permit process in time to safely leave and return. American artists depart the US almost daily to promote American art and culture. Further, the new Order has indeed garnered global attention. This kind of attention may lead to negative implications beyond our borders for American artists.

Please be assured that the AFM is not taking a position against the African Elephant ivory ban itself. Director's Order No. 210 is our focus. Released in conjunction with the National Strategy for Combating Wildlife Trafficking, the new Order does, and for that matter any revised order, may completely disregard the fact that millions of legitimate purchases of musical instruments have been made by US citizens before and after 1976. With this new Order there are new consequences for American artists regardless of whether their musical instrument was purchased prior to the ban.

We, the undersigned members of the American Federation of Musicians of the United States and Canada along with other artists who travel internationally with their precious work tools need an immediate resolution. We strongly encourage Members of Congress to review problems surrounding the implementation of this Order. We also ask you President Obama to order the US Department of the Interior- US Fish and Wildlife to rescind or revise Section 2 b (4) of Director’s Order No. 210 and in its place create a new directive with a specific exemption for musical instruments legitimately purchased that contain components of African elephant ivory. Any new Order should create a pathway for unimpeded travel into and out of the United States.

May 13, 2014 at 10:19 AM · It's interesting that some elephant hunting and the trophies remain legal, and are excluded from the ban, with the justification that this will produce revenue which will contribute to anti-poaching efforts.

So I have proposed that certificates of compliance be issued to all currently existing bows and instruments, for a one-time fee or tax, with the money going to the same conservation efforts. I know that I'd be willing to pay a fifty dollar fee to guarantee that each of my current bows is declared legal for travel, and can be legally re-sold someday. I suspect that most other people would as well.

Merely making a broad category of existing equipment semi-illegal does nothing for conservation.

Moby Pearson, there are only a small number of horror stories right now, but enforcement will be increased, according to those in charge of enforcement. And since enforcement agencies can't necessarily tell the difference between illegal ivory, legal ivory, legal mastodon, legal bone, and "plastic" ivory substitutes at this point without destructive testing, no bows with anything even resembling ivory are completely safe. The same goes for tortoise shell, pearl, and even some kinds of leather (if it is presumed to come from "wildlife").

May 13, 2014 at 11:23 PM · Is this a potential advantage of having a living bow-maker? Conceivably, one could get a letter stating exactly what materials were (and weren't) included, from the person who would know best. I don't know if that would pass muster with the Feds, but it's where I would think to go first.

May 14, 2014 at 02:36 AM · Just came across this article, which seems relevant:

Do Ivory Sales Encourage Elephant Poaching? Or just the opposite?

JOHN FREDERICK WALKER

IS THE AUTHOR OF IVORY'S

GHOSTS: THE WHITE GOLD

OF HISTORY AND THE FATE

OF ELEPHANTS

(ATLANTIC MONTHLY PRESS).

By John Frederick Walker www.johnfrederickwalker.com

The illegal killing of five elephants in Kenya's Tsavo National Park has generated an international furore and a spate of outraged reportage. The fact that their remains were found with their tusks hacked out-in a park that was notorious for out-of-control ivory poaching in the 1970s-has given rise to renewed talk of impending doom for the remaining herds in Africa. And, predictably, unprecedented attacks on how the nearly 20-year-old international ivory trade ban is being administered by the Geneva-based CITES Secretariat.

Join the debate

To publish your own thoughts on this topic, please click here

60% rise in elephant poaching

Patrick Omondi, species management coordinator for the Kenya Wildlife Service, is one of a number of conservationists and animal advocates convinced that the recent 60% rise in ivory poaching in his country can be blamed squarely on last year's legal sale of over 100 tons of ivory from southern Africa.No one doubts that Omondi cares deeply about elephants. But is he, and those who agree with him, right? Almost certainly not-and that's bad for elephants.

[photo] Elephant bull in Kenya. Elephants do die naturally, and their tusks are a valuable resource for the authorities who manage their elephant herds well. Perhaps this resource should be used to fund elephant conservation? Photo credit Wildlife Extra.

Ivory auctions

Here's the background. The 2008 sale of tusks from Namibia, Botswana, Zimbabwe and South Africa was only the second exception to a global ban on cross-border trade in ivory that took effect in 1990. It was conducted under the auspices of CITES, the 173-nation UN-administered convention that governs trade in endangered species, and netted $15.4 million dollars.

Final approval for it came out of the CITES meeting of member states in the Hague two years ago, at which African nations allowed four countries with growing, well-managed herds to profit from their conservation successes in a "one-off" sale-with restrictions.

Only ivory from legitimate sources (natural deaths, problem animals) could be sold, and only to CITES-approved buyers (Japan and China), who agreed not to re-export it. Funds raised had to be used for elephant conservation and no further exports from countries involved in the sale would be permitted for an additional nine years.

But Omondi has been in I-told-you-so mode since the latest incidents in Tsavo. "What we warned would happen is happening," he told the UK's Telegraph. "This legal sale has restarted the demand for ivory, and illegal poachers and smugglers are back in business."

The idea that any legal ivory sales will surely encourage poaching is the mantra of anti-ivory campaigners (and widely repeated in the media), but on examination it just doesn't stand up. It's very hard to prove a causal connection between the two, as serious researchers have discovered. TRAFFIC, the joint World Wildlife Fund / IUCN wildlife trade monitoring network, says there's no hard evidence that these sales will lead to more poaching or increased illegal trade in ivory.

Supply and demand

In fact, legal sales may help suppress poaching. CITES expects the recent sale of tusks, at which legitimate ivory averaged $152 per kilogram, to undercut black market ivory, which was said to be going for up to $800 a kilogram in Asia-and it's those inflated prices that provide the primary incentive for poaching in countries suffering from poverty and corruption.

Legal ivory sales raise much-needed elephant funds. Guarding these magnificent creatures isn't cheap. There are rangers to hire and arm, fences to repair and build, land to be purchased for wildlife corridors.

We all prefer to see elephants alive - but they die of natural causes too. Credit Wildlife Extra.

We all prefer to see elephants alive - but they die of natural causes too. Credit Wildlife Extra.

Ivory stockpiles & conservation funds

Think about it: elephants don't have to be killed to get their tusks. They leave these spectacular incisors behind when they die, and in many areas these are routinely recovered. That's why tons of ivory is stockpiled in the warehouses of African parks and wildlife services each year. Cash-strapped African nations aren't about to destroy stocks of this valuable "white gold"-particularly when no elephants were harmed in collecting it.

The history of ivory makes it clear why demand for this alluring organic material is never going to disappear. It's been prized for millennia for its seductive, tactile qualities and its ability to be finely carved, and its use is ingrained in numerous cultures around the world.

Renewable resource

Ivory needn't be the elephant's curse. Tightly controlled exports of legitimate ivory from Africa could be treated as a self-renewing resource that helps fund the effective conservation of the animal that has always been its greatest source.

Obviously, that would require a degree of regulation and enforcement that has so far proved elusive, but that doesn't mean it isn't worth striving for. New approaches to assuring a future for elephants-ones that Africans as well as elephants can live with-are desperately needed.

Last autumn's CITES-supervised ivory sale was a step in that direction, not a step backwards.

John Frederick Walker is the author of Ivory's Ghosts: The White Gold of History and the Fate of Elephants (Atlantic Monthly Press).

http://www.johnfrederickwalker.com/

Bob Books

© 2008 Wildlife Extra

Your Privacy

Contact us

Links

CMS

Created by Wild Dog Design & Bright Interactive

This discussion has been archived and is no longer accepting responses.

Facebook Twitter YouTube Instagram Email

Violinist.com is made possible by...

Shar Music
Shar Music

Yamaha Violin Finder
Yamaha Violin Finder

Corilon Violins
Corilon Violins

Pirastro Strings
Pirastro Strings

Shanghai Isaac Stern International Violin Competition
Shanghai Isaac Stern International Violin Competition

Dimitri Musafia, Master Maker of Violin and Viola Cases
Dimitri Musafia, Master Maker of Violin and Viola Cases

Elmar Oliveira International Violin Competition
Elmar Oliveira International Violin Competition

Gliga Violins
Gliga Violins

Bay Fine Strings Violin Shop

Bobelock Cases

Fiddlerman.com

Fiddlershop

Los Angeles Violin Shop

Nazareth Gevorkian Violins

Potter Violins

Pro-Am Strings

Violin Lab

Wangbow Violin Bow Workshop

Subscribe