If a “huge” load of scientifically valuable prehistoric animal bones aren’t returned soon to the Museum of the Aleutians, they may end up in the trash in Canada, according to a frustrated scientist in Victoria, British Columbia, who is encountering tax problems while trying to avoid international legal difficulties.
It turns out that the $6,000 set aside for shipping three shrink-wrapped pallets of nearly a half million bones back to Unalaska is causing financial headaches for the private research firm, Pacific Identifications, according to zoologist and treasurer Susan Crockford.
“We had to pay taxes on these funds to carry them forward to this year. We are unwilling to pay taxes on these funds for yet another year,” Crockford said in an email to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. “It means that if we cannot get the import permit required to ship the material by August of this year at the latest, we face having to do something unconscionable to professional archaeologists and research scientists: send all 57 boxes to the dump.”
Most likely, no federal permits are needed, according to Andrea Medeiros, a Fish and Wildlife spokeswoman in Anchorage, since the bones came from Native corporation land, and not federal property, under the terms of the Archaeological Resources Protection Act. However, Fish and Wildlife Service officials were still reviewing the requirements of international treaties involving endangered species and migratory birds.
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