NY Man charged with smuggling birdwings

Discussion on the legal aspects of insect specimen trading and collecting
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kevinkk
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Re: NY Man charged with smuggling birdwings

Post by kevinkk »

Bad news is just that, and it gets lots of rubbernecks. It is seemingly a regional thing sometimes, here in Oregon, we more often see stories
about the release of Speyeria sp. at Cascade Head, or other stories about ecology. Habitat loss is the real culprit anywhere.
It's the people who know best who are left out of the loop. Smuggling wildlife is a problem, and things can get lumped together.
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Re: NY Man charged with smuggling birdwings

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wollastoni wrote: Thu Oct 12, 2023 8:49 am
I will give you an example from my country :
- a stupid law has been voted with a ban to collect more than 100 insects per year per person in French Guiana
- the French Lepidopterist Association and other important association made some meetings and wrote to FG authorities
- this law has been changed to 1000 specimens.
Without that move, all entomological lodges in FG would have disappeared and nobody would ever study FG butterflies anymore in the field.
A little off topic. But an entomologist can catch 1000 insects quite easily in 1 single night catching!!! 1000 insects in a whole year is a huge loss for entomologists (not only in France). Fortunately, it is possible to increase this amount many times over. But it requires a bit of bureaucracy.
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Re: NY Man charged with smuggling birdwings

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Re: NY Man charged with smuggling birdwings

Post by Chuck »

laurie2 wrote: Thu Feb 29, 2024 3:41 am Update - https://www.nbcnewyork.com/news/local/c ... s/5177683/.
$30k penalty plus incarceration TBD. And surrender of his collection which I'm sure is more than "1,000 specimens". Look like they've really thrown the book at Limmer. I'd guess they'll go light on the incarceration given that he's 75 YO; the loss of his prized collection I'm sure is a real heartbreaker for him.
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Re: NY Man charged with smuggling birdwings

Post by adamcotton »

Are they allowed to seize his whole collection, or only those specimens which were illegally imported?

Adam.
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Re: NY Man charged with smuggling birdwings

Post by Chuck »

When the federal government agencies plan to search a home for evidence to arrest someone they have to get a warrant from a judge (this is about as hard as buying a hotdog at a hotdog vendor.) In the warrant application they have to cite where they want search and what they're searching for (and will seize). The latter almost always includes all communications devices (including computers and phones).

In a case like this, I'd think USFWS would seize the entire collection, because who has the expertise to even recognize what they're looking for? Inexplicably (to me) this is not always the case, and they do seize only part of a collection. I do not know if USFWS seized all of Limmer's collection (and commercial material) or just part of it.

The article says Limmer has to "hand over" his collection of 1,000 specimens. The article is written by a journalist for AP, not the most reliable source, so I'd not read too much into "hand over" (i.e., not assume it meant he still had specimens.)

In any event, Limmer plead guilty meaning there was a pre-trial negotiation between USFWS and Limmer and he agreed to surrender custody of whatever-it-really-is. This is different than if he'd gone to trial, after which win or lose, USFWS would have to return anything not proven to be contraband. But in a negotiation, the details of which I do not know, USFWS could have negotiated to keep his entire collection.

I've not seen the case published yet, so the details of what all this means I cannot say. I would suggest not provoking federal agencies who you know are watching you.

I've already suggested to an institution that they grab the collection, but was advised that these almost always go to Smithsonian. So if you're poking USFWS and don't like Smithsonian to be the recipient of your collection, either quit annoying USFWS or give your stuff to a different institution before they get you (add this because one collections manager told me that more collector's wills cite who NOT to give the collection to than cite a preferred depository!)
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Re: NY Man charged with smuggling birdwings

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Finally! a small amount of "justice" for the collectors Limmer burned over the years past...
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Re: NY Man charged with smuggling birdwings

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Finally! a small amount of "justice" for the collectors Limmer burned over the years past... gecko 88
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Re: NY Man charged with smuggling birdwings

Post by kevinkk »

That's unfortunate for Dr. Limmer. I am sorry for him. Yes, he circumvented the rules. Nevertheless, I have sympathy, not everyone will, like I told
my defense attorney one time- "someone's got to do it" . If there is a market, there will be suppliers, I have limmerleps butterflies-
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Re: NY Man charged with smuggling birdwings

Post by Chuck »

kevinkk wrote: Fri Mar 01, 2024 1:13 am That's unfortunate for Dr. Limmer. I am sorry for him. Yes, he circumvented the rules. Nevertheless, I have sympathy, not everyone will, like I told
my defense attorney one time- "someone's got to do it" . If there is a market, there will be suppliers, I have limmerleps butterflies-
I feel for him in that he lost it, he wasn't thinking straight. That was obvious by the way he treated some of his customers, and his arrogant posts here; and of course by the simple fact that USFWS pulled his license, but he continued despite it being obvious they were out to get him. Insanity or whatever, the poor guy just wasn't wired right.
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Re: NY Man charged with smuggling birdwings

Post by kevinkk »

Agreed Chuck, clearly Charles knew what he was doing, continuing to receive material, he was still operating his business up until not long ago.
He was gruffy and perhaps conceited, tempting fate with the feds is not my idea of sound strategy.
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Re: NY Man charged with smuggling birdwings

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adamcotton wrote: Thu Feb 29, 2024 3:21 pm Are they allowed to seize his whole collection, or only those specimens which were illegally imported?

Adam.
So, back in the days when those guys were poaching from US national parks and stuff, there was another less known case involving John Kemner and his commercial collecting in Mexico. In that case, USFWS seized all the Mexican bugs out of a collection I was aware of, but left the US material alone. In this case, the "seized" material was moved to Ohio State, wrapped in evidence tape like they use at crime scenes, and just left sitting for a few years. It was in an unheated storage area, dermesitids got into it, and everything was destroyed. Which was a shame - it had a lot of hesperiidae from higher altitudes in there - bugs that are pretty uncommon in collections in the US.

To avoid prosecution, Kemner moved permanently to Mexico.

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Re: NY Man charged with smuggling birdwings

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kevinkk wrote: Fri Mar 01, 2024 4:23 pm Agreed Chuck, clearly Charles knew what he was doing, continuing to receive material, he was still operating his business up until not long ago.
He was gruffy and perhaps conceited, tempting fate with the feds is not my idea of sound strategy.
Looks like Charles is still in business. There is a Dr. Charles Limmer, owner of Limmerentomological, selling wildlife on ETSY. He presently has 101 listings, mostly insects. Many listing have multiple specimens available. Total of approximately over 600 specimens at a total value of over $10,000.
By the way, I never saw him claim to have the title of "Dr." until the last year or two. Maybe he thought he could get the exception to clearance of wildlife imported by accredited scientists per 50 CFR Part 14.55.
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Re: NY Man charged with smuggling birdwings

Post by Chuck »

jellybean wrote: Sat Mar 02, 2024 6:19 am
kevinkk wrote: Fri Mar 01, 2024 4:23 pm Agreed Chuck, clearly Charles knew what he was doing, continuing to receive material, he was still operating his business up until not long ago.
He was gruffy and perhaps conceited, tempting fate with the feds is not my idea of sound strategy.
Looks like Charles is still in business. There is a Dr. Charles Limmer, owner of Limmerentomological, selling wildlife on ETSY. He presently has 101 listings, mostly insects. Many listing have multiple specimens available. Total of approximately over 600 specimens at a total value of over $10,000.

It may be still going with old stock, or he may not have had the time or will to take it down. I'd ask before ordering anything.
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Re: NY Man charged with smuggling birdwings

Post by kevinkk »

This topic has brought a question to my mind. Do people really make a living selling insects? I've tried it years ago, when the internet was young.
It seems like a difficult market. Perhaps it's the suppliers, but in any event, how many buyers are out there that continue to purchase material?
I find it difficult to believe many, if any persons actually make a living or get rich.
Someone may have thousands in inventory, but that is different than actual sales.
I have bought maybe 1000 in deadstock in the last 12 years.
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Re: NY Man charged with smuggling birdwings

Post by Chuck »

kevinkk wrote: Sun Mar 03, 2024 4:12 pm This topic has brought a question to my mind. Do people really make a living selling insects? I've tried it years ago, when the internet was young.
It seems like a difficult market. Perhaps it's the suppliers, but in any event, how many buyers are out there that continue to purchase material?
I find it difficult to believe many, if any persons actually make a living or get rich.
One still can make money. In the pre-internet days several companies had a number of employees, all drawing salaries. These days it's a lot tougher because of (1) foreign country controls (2) the onerous inspection of legal importers, and (3) the ability to buy direct, albeit illegally.

(1) has put a number of countries off limits, limiting supply.
(2) has made it difficult to legally operate a business; it's counter-intuitive, but USFWS hassles the legally registered entities the most; that's why I (and I believe Bill Garthe) quit.
(3) This is the real killer. The client base can buy direct, ilegally.

I should add a fourth, the "Amazon mentality"- buyer doesn't like it because today is Tuesday, they expect a full refund. The cost of business increases.

As you can see though, InsectNet has suppliers who move a lot of product. I can't say if any given seller is just a lucrative hobby, or supporting five people.

The most successful concentrate on the utmost rarities, have impeccable overseas contacts, know the laws inside and out, have cash, and have a client list not a website. Websites are for pedestrian stuff and volume generic stuff. No great collectibles ever get advertised, a phone call is made and it's sold. The stuff on websites is left-overs. I suppose if I wanted to get back into it I could, and make some good money, but it's a real hassle these days.
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Re: NY Man charged with smuggling birdwings

Post by Chuck »

Jshuey wrote: Fri Mar 01, 2024 11:51 pm
So, back in the days when those guys were poaching from US national parks and stuff, there was another less known case involving John Kemner and his commercial collecting in Mexico. In that case, USFWS seized all the Mexican bugs out of a collection I was aware of, but left the US material alone. In this case, the "seized" material was moved to Ohio State, wrapped in evidence tape like they use at crime scenes, and just left sitting for a few years. It was in an unheated storage area, dermesitids got into it, and everything was destroyed. Which was a shame - it had a lot of hesperiidae from higher altitudes in there - bugs that are pretty uncommon in collections in the US.

john
Not the first time USFWS has seized something and screwed the pooch. They grabbed a bunch of rare turtles some guy was breeding, and they all died. Makes you wonder.

About that time of the National Parks, and I think it was specifically THAT time, there was something about Parnassius that USFWS were after in collections (IIRC from national forests, but could be wrong.) There was a claim that someone had destroyed their entire Parnassius collection for fear of USFWS- who was that?
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Re: NY Man charged with smuggling birdwings

Post by Jshuey »

Chuck wrote: Tue Mar 05, 2024 8:45 pm
Not the first time USFWS has seized something and screwed the pooch. They grabbed a bunch of rare turtles some guy was breeding, and they all died. Makes you wonder.

About that time of the National Parks, and I think it was specifically THAT time, there was something about Parnassius that USFWS were after in collections (IIRC from national forests, but could be wrong.) There was a claim that someone had destroyed their entire Parnassius collection for fear of USFWS- who was that?
I blame Ohio State for the loss of the bugs. It was their curator who choose to neglect their care until USFWS released them. And I never heard about the Parnnasius issue.

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Re: NY Man charged with smuggling birdwings

Post by Chuck »

Jshuey wrote: Wed Mar 06, 2024 2:09 pm
I blame Ohio State for the loss of the bugs. It was their curator who choose to neglect their care until USFWS released them.
Legally speaking, until the package is released, it is evidence and it's custody of USFWS- it's their responsibility. I wouldn't do anything with it either, as during that period doing anything with it could be considered tampering with evidence. There is always the chance that the rightful owner is vindicated and the specimens returned, and if Ohio had done anything they could be held financially responsible, and though it's a long shot the curator could be charged with destruction of private property, a crime. (on the latter, no I would not get anywhere with this, but Elon Musk would.) It's not worth the risk to maintain specimens that are property of an individual, under the responsibility of a third party, and may not be transferred to the university. I maintain that USFWS was responsible for the loss of rare specimens.
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