More on Mr. T (bflying in parks)

James J. Kruse kruse at
Fri Aug 29 18:02:08 EDT 1997


Since I posted the first article, might as well send the version published
in another paper...  Parentheses are mine, sorry.

The growing trade in protected bugs further threatens endangered insects
throughout the United States

By William Claiborne
LA Times-Washington Post Service

	LOS ANGELES - When Adriano Teobaldelli was arrested in Sequoia
National Park last month, he was trying to hide a butterfly net behind his
back.  A box with 51 dead butterflies made it clear this was no
absent-minded butterfly fancier.  (nice touch...)
	Teobaldelli, 60, is a butterfly poacher.  Last week he pleaded to
charges of netting hundreds of butterflies in parks in CA, NV, UT, and CO.
The incident underscores a dark side of entomology that authorities say is
increasingly threatening rare or endangered species of insects throughout
the nation.
	According to U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service officials, there is a
growing trade in legally protected butterflies that can bring as much as
$500 a pair.  Although the lawyer for Teobaldelli, who paid a $500 fine
and flew home to Italy, sarcastically commented that the U.S. Park Service
had cracked a butterfly kidnapping conspiracy, officials say the case is
no laughing matter.
	"It's symptomatic of a recurring problem of poachers from all over
the world coming into our national parks and turning them into the last
supermarkets for traffickers of illegal wildlife. It's hard to think of
someone as an innocent collector when he goes into five national parks and
hauls away so many butterflies," said David Klinger, spokesman for the
Fish and Wildlife Service regional office in Portland.
	Nearly 20 species of butterflies are on the endangered list in the
United States; Hawaii has the most, California the second most.  But only
four species are on the list kept by the 146-nation Convention on
International Trade of Endangered Species, and they include no species
native to North America, said Ginette Hemley, director of international
wildlife policy for the World Wildlife Fund in Washington.
	Teobaldelli, who told authorities he is a hospital administrator
and amateur butterfly collector, was arrested in Sequoia's Halstead
Meadows by Scott Wanek, who said that as he approached, Teobaldelli tried
to hide a large butterfly net behind his back.
	In addition to the box with 51 dead butterflies, rangers armed
with a search warrent found 200 more in Teobaldelli's motel room. They
said he admitted having captured them in other parks, including Bryce
Canyon, Arches and Canyonlands parks in UT and Mesa Verde in CO.
	Sequoia spokeswoman Malinee Crapsey said Parks Service
entomologists were attempting to identify and catalogue the confiscated
butterflies to determine whether any are on the endangered species list.
But officials said that given the locations where they were caught, it is
probable that at least some are from endangered species. 
	Authorities said Teobaldelli's butterflies were in labeled
cellophane bags and accompanied by meticulous notes specifying when and
where they were caught.  Klinger said such documentation is crucial to the
trading and selling of butterflies because it enhances their value. (oh,
was wondering why I bothered with labels. Good thing Klinger knows.)
	"Of course, it also makes it easier to prosecute," Klinger said.
Stephen A. Oberholtzer, a Fish and Wildlife special agent, said
Teobaldelli admitted he had caught the butterflies and said he planned to
trade some of them with other collectors. 
	But special agents who cracked an international ring of butterfly
poachers in San Francisco two years ago and helped convict three men
involved in it, including a pest exterminator whom his co-workers called
"bugman," said illegal butterfly traffickers often pose as legitimate
collectors while poaching valuable species and selling them at a large
	Teobaldelli was charged under the Lacey Act, which makes violation
of state wildlife laws a federal crime when it involves interstate
transport of wildlife species. (is this worded right?)
Jim Kruse
University of California at Berkeley
Dept. of Environ Sci, Policy and Mgmt.
Div. of Insect Biology
Sperling Lab
201 Wellman Hall
Berkeley, California, 94720-3113
(510) 642-5114/7410

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