Will i get into trouble for taking this deer horn/antler home from Japan?
September 2, 2010 4:32 AM   Subscribe

I'm an American WWOOFing in Japan. I found a deer horn (antler? --I'm a city boy) in the forest here. If I try to take this back to America, will I run into trouble?

Just curious because I know in America sometimes possessing stuff like this can be a real problem. I have no idea how it is in Japan. My host thinks it is fine, but I thought I'd check... anyone know?
posted by johnnybeggs to Travel & Transportation around Japan (5 answers total)
Fish and Wildlife
Certain fish and wildlife, and products made from them, are subject to import and export restrictions, prohibitions, permits or certificates, as well as requirements. CBP recommends that you contact the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service before you depart if you plan to import or export any of the following:

* Wild birds, land or marine mammals, reptiles, fish, shellfish, mollusks or invertebrates;
* Any part or product of the above, such as skins, tusks, bone, feathers, or eggs; or
* Products or articles manufactured from wildlife or fish.

Endangered wildlife species, and products made from them, generally may not be imported or exported. You will need a permit from the FWS to import virtually all types of ivory, unless it is from a warthog. The FWS has many restrictions and prohibitions on various kinds of ivory - Asian elephant, African elephant, whale, rhinoceros, seal, pre-Endangered Species Act, post-CITES (Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species) and many others - and urge you to contact them before you acquire ivory in a foreign country. You may contact the Management Authority at 1-800-358-2104. Pressing Option 3 will provide you with general information, and Option 4 will connect you to the permits section. You can also get information on permits. ( U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service - Permits )

You may import an object made of ivory if it is an antique. To be an antique the ivory must be at least 100 years old. You will need documentation that authenticates the age of the ivory. You may import other antiques containing wildlife parts with the same condition, but they must be accompanied by documentation proving they are at least 100 years old. Certain other requirements for antiques may apply.

If you plan to buy such things as tortoiseshell jewelry, or articles made from whalebone, ivory, skins or fur, contact the:

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
Division of Law Enforcement
P.O. Box 3247
Arlington, VA 22203-3247

You can also call 1-800-358-2104 or visit the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Web site. ( U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service ) Hunters can get information on the limitations for importing and exporting migratory game birds from this office as well or from the Migratory Birds page. ( Migratory Birds )

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has designated specific ports of entry to handle fish and wildlife entries. If you plan to import anything discussed in this section, please contact CBP about designated ports and the brochure Pets and Wildlife, which describes the regulations CBP enforces for all agencies that oversee the importation of animals.

Some states have fish and wildlife laws and regulations that are stricter than federal laws and regulations. If you are returning to such a state, be aware that the stricter state laws and regulations have priority. Similarly, the federal government does not allow you to import wild animals into the United States that were taken, killed, sold, possessed or exported from another country if any of these acts violated foreign laws.

posted by Comrade_robot at 4:54 AM on September 2, 2010 [1 favorite]

I think you may be looking at a variant of a "clean and dry bone trophy." Please contact the actual authorities, but you might also want to look at this pdf which I found while reading some forums about people who import/bring in bones and antlers for use in knife handles. That said, I believe you would need to show proof of a hunting license if you go this way which may be more trouble than it's worth.
posted by jessamyn at 8:57 AM on September 2, 2010

This isn't a hunt trophy, it's a shed antler, so you shouldn't need to show proof of a hunting license. Call Fish & Wildlife to double-check, but I'm pretty sure all you need is form 3-177 -- you can download it here or fill it out electronically here. Declare the antler when you get to customs, show it to them along with the form, and you should be fine. The worst thing that'll happen is that they'll frown at you and confiscate it, but I doubt they'll bother for one antler -- they are mainly looking for folks who are bringing in commercial shipments and/or fresh animal parts which might harbor disease.
posted by vorfeed at 11:12 AM on September 2, 2010 [1 favorite]

anecdata: I, uh, know someone who brought a found buffalo(?) horn back into the US in my her carry-on backpack -- 2 international flights (started in Italy) with no trouble. Carry-on didn't get unpacked or hand-examined. Not recommending this, but it's possible you could slip it in under the radar, so to speak.
posted by lilbizou at 11:16 AM on September 2, 2010

It will be worth your time to spend a few minutes to get an ID.

It's one thing if it's a shed antler from a white-tailed deer (or its Japanese "extremely commonplace ungulate" equivalent). Quite another if it's the single tusk from the exquisitely rare, endangered, and illegal-to-import-under-any-circumstance Tufted Mer-Elephant.
posted by ErikaB at 11:40 AM on September 2, 2010

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