May 04, 2015

U.S. plans to lighten up on ivory-mounted pipes

The much ballyhooed but probably little enforced restriction on contraband ivory will be eased for musical instruments, according to statements from the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, responsible for inspections when pipers cross over the border of the United States.

The situation first came to light in the news media when pipes|drums reported on the confiscation of American pipers Eryk Bean and Campbell Webster’s antique ivory-mounted pipes when they attempted to return to the U.S. after competing at the North American Championships at Maxville, Ontario, last August.

The ban on ivory remains in effect, but exemptions will be made for items like bagpipes.

Among other uses of ivory is a small piece in the bows of violins, violas and cellos, and some orchestral musicians have seen their bows – some valued at more than $20,000 – confiscated.

The exemption will not be in place until it winds its way through the American bureaucracy, and then will be subject to a 60-day public comment period. Pipers with instruments featuring antique ivory will still require a CITES certification to show that their pipes were made before 1976.

Since the reported “crack down” on ivory-mounted pre-1976 pipes, re-sales of antique instruments have virtually dried up, according to sources, with prices dropping for vintage drones. The easing of restrictions is expected now to reinvigorate the market.

Ben McClamrock of Baltimore competed at The Livingstone invitational solo piping competition in Hamilton, Ontario, on May 2nd with a secondary set of non-ivory-mounted drones, leaving his vintage pipes made by R.G. Lawrie behind for fear of confiscation at the US-Canadian border.

In January Andrew Carlisle was delayed returning to the United States from Belfast due to complications with his CITES permit and a shortage of available U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service inspectors.


  1. Good to see that the largest group of “Ivory Poachers” on the planet have decided to ease up a bit.
    However, I still don’t trust them and am not going anywhere near them with my ivory mounted bagpipes.
    Yep, Catalan mounts for me, my friends.



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