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© Joel Garlich-Miller/U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service/AP
This April 13, 2004 photo provided by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service shows a large Pacific bull walrus on ice in the Bering Sea off the west coast of Alaska. On Friday the agency said it's investigating the deaths of 25 Pacific walrus found on an isolated northwest Alaska beach.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service said Friday it is investigating the deaths of 25 Pacific walrus 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 walrus 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 Friday. "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 about half a kilometre 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.

However, walrus killed only for the collection of ivory is considered wasteful, and "head-hunting" is illegal.

Source: The Associated Press