Londonderry High Student’s Bagpipes Temporarily Confiscated

Londonderry High School senior Eryk Bean, 17, who is part Scot, plays the bagpipes, and his summer included plans to travel to Scotland for the month of August with his band, the Stuart Highlanders, to compete in the World Pipe Band Championship.

Prior to going to Scotland, however, Bean traveled to Canada for a competition. And on his return trip, his bagpipes were confiscated at the U.S.-Canada border in Vermont by Customs and Fish and Wildlife officials. The reason? The bagpipes contain ivory, a banned material.

While the confiscation kept him at the border crossing for almost 24 hours, Eryk was still able to make the trip to Scotland, where he is now and will be until his return home on Sept. 2.

Eryk’s father, Glenn Bean, said the ivory is on Eryk’s 1958 Robertson pipes.

“With old musical instruments, whether it’s a piano or a guitar or whatever, before they had plastic, they had ivory,” Glenn Bean said. “A lot of these old musical instruments, which is what these musicians play, have ivory on them. In Eryk’s case they are on the drones, the part of the bagpipes that rest on your shoulder.”

Bean said that in 1976, in order to stop ivory poaching, a law was passed banning the export or import of ivory, Eryk’s pipes were made before the ban.

“There is a permit called the CITES (Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species),” Glenn Bean said. “To get one of these permits, you have to prove that that what you have is pre-1976, and you pay for an inspection of the instrument and an appraisal. Then you pay Fish and Wildlife $75, wait up to three months for the permit, and once you have the permit, you can set an appointment with Fish and Wildlife to be able to cross the border or fly out of the country. It’s basically a musical instrument passport.”

And Eryk has a CITES permit.

Glenn Bean said that along the entire border of the U.S. and Canada, there is no designated crossing that accepts the CITES permits. “The only designated ports are airports. The nearest is in Boston, at Logan airport,” he said.

Eryk remained at the border for almost 24 hours waiting for the matter to be resolved. In the meantime, calls were made to U.S. Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, D-NH, U.S. Sen. Kelly Ayotte, R-NH, and Congresswoman Carol Shea-Porter, D-NH 1st District.

“U.S. Customs asked if they had bagpipes and he said yes and he was asked if they had ivory and he said yes and the border patrol was told that he had the CITES permit, and he was told to pull the car over and bring in the bagpipes. The non-ivory parts were removed by Eryk and he called me and I called Ayotte, Shaheen and Shea-Porter,” Glenn Bean said.

“Eventually after several hours, the bagpipes were returned and Eryk was able to get home and fly to Scotland for the competition there,” Bean said.

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