A big-game hunter from Folsom is trying to stop the federal government from destroying a prize pair of elephant tusks.
The tusks were taken legally during a hunting safari in Africa, but they were shipped to the U.S. without the proper permit.
Folsom attorney Rod Klein recently went on one last African safari before turning 80. While in Tanzania he legally hunted lion, leopard and elephant – which are all listed as endangered species.
The animals were trophy mounted in South Africa and shipped to the U.S. in a large crate, included two large ivory tusks. Klein thought he had all the proper import permits when federal inspectors in San Francisco opened the crate.
"They looked and said, 'where is the CITES permit for the ivory tusks?'" Klein said. "We said, 'we were told we didn't have to have one.' And they said 'yes you do.'"
Klein said he was given wrong the information about import permits by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. When the tusks arrived in port, the veteran big-game hunter was suddenly suspected of trying to smuggle the ivory tusks into the U.S.
"They said, 'we'll have to take them into possession now. They're considered contraband.' -- Terrible word," Klein said.
It's illegal to sell the ivory, the only thing Klein, or anyone, can do with the tusks is put them on display.
That's what Klein planned on doing with the 6-foot long ivory tusks. He was displayed them in his 'trophy room' at his home, which displays other big game he has hunted around the world. However, now he fears they will be destroyed by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
"The department of interior, there are some people there who are very anti-hunter -- believe it or not," Klein said. "They're supposed to be taking care of the animals, instead of trying to destroy these tusks."
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service did not comment on the case at the time of this post.
Klein has filed a complaint in federal court trying to stop the tusks from being destroyed.
"Why they want them? I don't know," Klein said. "Maybe some bureaucrat likes the looks of them, and he wants them next to his fireplace place instead of my fireplace."
Klein is even willing to donate the tusks to a natural history museum so everyone can see them; He said he would do anything to save them from being destroyed. Video.