updated 4/6/2006 1:36:17 PM ET 2006-04-06T17:36:17

A self-proclaimed conservationist was fined $200 for stealing butterflies from a swamp with the help of his 11-year-old son.

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Joseph R. Wampler Jr. pleaded guilty in federal court to one misdemeanor charge of taking butterflies from protected lands without permission. He was fined Tuesday, and could have received up to one year in jail and a $10,000 fine.

Wampler raised suspicions almost as soon as he walked into the office of the Great Dismal Swamp Wildlife Refuge last June, refuge manager Deloras Freeman said.

Freeman contacted a law enforcement officer, who trailed Wampler and watched him and his son collect butterflies and pack them into boxes.

Wampler, 48, of Middletown, Del., conceded that what he did was wrong but said he and his son were only gathering the butterflies as a hobby.

“I’m a conservationist,” he told The Virginian-Pilot. “I’m not a collector, and I’ve never sold a butterfly in my life.”

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