eBay Changes Artifacts Policy To Help Protect Speleothems

Conservation Section Home

 Tom Lera
Liaison for International Speleothem Protection, NSS Conservation Committee

IMPORTANT ANNOUNCEMENT: On Saturday, September 1st, eBay changed their Artifacts Listing Policy to include speleothems. I want to thank everyone who spoke with and/or emailed eBay Community Watch over the past two years to help eliminate the listing of speleothems.? It's evident your comments did not go unnoticed.


Two of the Community Watch comments I received were "if we only knew the state and federal laws" and, "the auction ended before we could delist the item."? Approximately two weeks before Convention, I mailed the Chairman of the Board, President, Vice-president and General Counsel of eBay a copy of all of the Federal laws and state statutes regarding the protection of speleothems and caves.


When I returned from Convention, I had a message to call the General Counsel. For a week we discussed cave conservation, eBay politics and how their Artifacts Policy could be changed. Below is an annotated copy of the new eBay Artifacts Policy with the changes in bold italics

Artifacts, Grave-Related Items and Native American Crafts
Many artifacts, cave formations (speleothems, stalactites and stalagmites) and grave-related items are protected under federal laws such as, The Federal Cave Resources Protection Act of 1988, and the Native American Grave Protection and Repatriation Act. eBay cooperates with the Department of the Interior, Department of Agriculture, ?Bureau of Indian Affairs and Federal Bureau of Investigation in determining what items may lawfully be sold under these laws. Please follow these general guidelines when listing related items on eBay.

Artifacts - Artifacts taken from any federal, state, public Department of Interior (NPS, BLM, USFWS) and Department of Agriculture Agencies (USFS), Native American land, or battlefield are prohibited for sale.

Cave Formations - The sale of speleothems, stalactites and stalagmites taken from caves on any federal land is prohibited by federal law. ?See The Federal Cave Resources Protection Act of 1988.?? Many states also prohibit the sale and/or removal of speleothems, stalactites and stalagmites taken from caves.? Please be sure your item complies with all applicable laws before listing it for sale.


The revised policy, however, does not prevent speleothems from occasionally being listed.? There are over 300,000 items on daily and the eBay Community Watch Team cannot check them all.? Cavers still must monitor the auctions, and, if we find a cave formation for sale, immediately email eBay Community Watch found under Contact Rules and Safety (http://pages.ebay.com/help/basics/select-RS.html), referencing the item and the new Artifacts Policy.? I have been advised when we do this, eBay Community Watch will immediately contact the seller and have the item delisted. This system is not perfect, however eBay has made a stand for cave conservation and together we can make a difference.