KY Statute 150.180, our understanding, it is illegal to sell any preserved, inedible endangered wildlife species.
On February 24th, Bright's Antique World, in Franklin, KY, was raided by KY Fish and Wildlife.
As a small independent business weathering our current horrible economy our store was having a great day when two agents entered app. at 1pm.
A search warrant was handed to Riley allowing them to take possession of our phones, cell phones, cash registers and computers. The agents also asked if we had any money on the premises.
Why? They said we had violated KY Statute 150.180 ( The actual statute, section one, which I think they believe we violated, is copied below.)
Buying, selling, or transporting protected wildlife, mussels and fishes, raw fur, or processed wildlife(1) Except as otherwise provided for in this chapter, and subject to regulations adopted under this chapter, no person, for himself or as the agent or employee of another shall buy, or sell, or attempt to buy, or sell, barter, exchange, or trade, or have in possession for the purpose of selling, bartering, or trading any protected wildlife or part thereof, raw fur or processed wildlife, no matter where or when caught or killed, whether caught or killed in this state or in any other state or other country.
I have underlined the word "protected". This one word is why are at risk of being fined thousands.
KY Fish and Wildlife say that every wildlife species is protected in KY. Do not confuse this with the endangered species list.
If you type in the google search engine: KY protected species list, you are automatically taken to the KY Fish and Wildlife's site under the Threatened and Endangered Species. Type the word protected species in their search engine and you are directed to more pdf files concerning endangered species. There is no "protected species list."
Since we opened our doors in 2003 we have sold animal mounts: deer, turkey, boar, antlers, (shed's included.) etc. Not one item that we had stocked or sold was on the KY, U.S. or African Endangered Species List.
The two KY Fish and Wildlife agents suddenly grew to 8. We called our business attorney who had never heard of the law and he asked why we were not given a warning. One of the agents piped up and said, "we wouldn't give drug dealers a warning?"
I tried to help customers while Riley and our business attorney tried to sort this out. I came back to the counter and made the suggestion to just take the tags off of the mounts in question and this would end. They responded saying that I could go to jail for tampering with evidence and obstructing justice.
Did I mention THIS IS AN ANTIQUE MALL???
KY Fish and Wildlife agents had a photograph album filled with photos of mounts from our store and brought a uhaul. They shut down our store for four hours, (which was not in the search warrant as one of the things they could do) put a police officer at the end of our store's drive way, with the siren going, and drove away all of our customers for four hours! Great for a small business!
To date we have had three court dates. We risk being charged per mount (which would be 31 counts for myself and 31 counts for Riley, total 62.)
As a small business, we cannot afford these fines. KY Fish and Wildlife had the option to give us a warning or make one charge for the lot, but they refused to do this.
We are trying to spread the word. The Criminal Attorney we hired did not want us to reach out and let folks know what was going on, but after our last court date they made a ridiculous counter offer so we have nothing to lose.
Please understand we have owned our business for 10 years! We have hundreds of people shopping our mall weekly, including game wardens, law officials, judges, lawyers, etc. and no one ever questioned or mentioned that this might be illegal. All of the sudden, after 10 years, we are suddenly breaking the law?
We were aware of this law, KY 150.180, and our understanding was it only pertained to "endangered" species. We took great measures to make sure that we never sold any "endangered" species in our Antique Mall. (By the way this law was written in 1942.)
After three months of online research, including the KY Fish and Wildlife's website, we have found we are the only retail store this agency has ever raided.
Were we targeted?
We have read this law hundred's of times and our attorney and a local judge agree, this law refers to "endangered" species.
KY Fish and Wildlife confiscated app. $16,000 of my dealers inventory. Did I mention that we do not own any of the mounts.
If this is allowed they will raid other antique stores, resale, consignment, pawn, sport/bait shops as well as flea markets, yard/garage sales, auctions, craft and artisan fairs, gallery's, etc.
If KY Fish and Wildlife is allowed to break a law that is clearly documented and then bend it to their will while bullying and
extorting the small businessman, they will close all Small Businesses. What is our country coming to?
We are asking everyone to contact the following KY officials and tell them to drop this case and stop violating our rights.
Commissioner Dr. Jonathan Gassett
Head of KY Fish & Wildlife
by the way Dr. Gassett is currently under investigation
please see link: Gassett under investigation
1 Sportsman's Lane
Frankfort, KY 40601
KY Senator David Givens
P.O. Box 12
Greensbug, KY 42743
502-564-8100 ext. 624
KY Representative Wilson Stone
1481 Jefferson School Road
Scottsville, KY 42164
Please feel free to contact us,
Riley & Linda Bright
Bright's Antique World
281 Steele Road
Franklin, KY 42134-1007
Remember, we live in a free country.
You paid for the right to hunt.
You bought and paid tax for a gun (bow) and ammunition.
You were given permission to harvest an animal.
You paid to taxidermy the animal you harvested.
Now the state says you can't sell something that you already paid for?