Campbell Creek Science Center offers reward for information on stolen mammoth tusk

Someone stole a 10,000-year-old mammoth bone from the Campbell Creek Science Center in March. They’re now offering a $500 reward for information. (Photo by Erin McKinstry/Alaska Public Media)

Someone stole a 10,000-year-old mammoth bone from the Campbell Creek Science Center in March. They’re now offering a $500 reward for information. (Photo by Erin McKinstry/Alaska Public Media)

Outside the Campbell Creek Science Center, a line of kids sings a call-and-response song with their camp counselor as they follow him down a path.

They’re part of a summer camp at the center that teaches kids about the outdoors and wildlife.

This summer’s campers are missing out on a hefty piece of Alaska’s history that campers and visitors enjoyed in the past.

In March, someone stole a 10,000-year-old mammoth tusk from the Center. Bureau of Land Management, which owns the Center, announced Tuesday that it’s offering a $500 reward to anyone with information leading to the recovery of the missing 100-pound tusk.

Inside the center, kids and counselors mill about grabbing backpacks as they head outside.

BLM spokeswoman Maureen Clark points to a corner of the Center’s classroom where the five-foot-long tusk used to sit on top of a counter. It’s now been replaced by two blue plastic bins.

“People could come up and touch it,” Clark said.

Because the investigation is ongoing, she can’t share much about the theft but says someone stole the tusk early March 8.

Police and BLM investigators responded that day.

“It’s important not to release too much information too early in the investigation, otherwise you could risk losing important evidence and suspects early on,” Clark said. “At this point in time, it was a good time to go to the public and ask for help.”

Clark said the tusk was one of several found on bureau land in the Colville River area up on the North Slope in the 1980s.

The tusk was polished, restored and put on display. It’s curved and brown and off-white in color.

“It was on display, really kind of a neat piece, (and) an amazing part of Alaska’s natural history. These animals that used to roam the earth during the ice age left behind their tusks,” Clark said. “It was popular with the kids and with the public.”

Clark said there’s a legal and an illegal market for ivory as well as paleontological resources like the tusk.

Nothing else was stolen at the time of the burglary.

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