A former biology professor at West Texas A&M University was given a six-month prison term on Tuesday for bringing endangered animals into the country.
The 55-year-old Dr. Richard Kazmaier also has to pay a $5,000 fine and complete three years of post-release supervision, according to the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ).
A federal judge in Amarillo handed Kazmaier his sentence after he pleaded guilty before the court on August 19. By bringing in protected wildlife without first declaring it or getting the necessary permits, Kazmaier admitted to violating the Lacey Act, a law that tries to stop the illegal trade of animals, fish, and plants.
A federal grand jury charged him with breaking the Endangered Species Act twice and smuggling goods into the country after he left West Texas A&M in October.
Kazmaier also pleaded guilty to a charge of giving false information under the Lacey Act, the very first law of its kind in the country. However, in response to a request from the government, the court threw out the charge.
Kazmaier admitted that between March 2013 and February 2020, he brought wildlife products into Texas from Bulgaria, Canada, China, the Czech Republic, Indonesia, Latvia, Norway, Russia, South Africa, Spain, the United Kingdom, and Uruguay without declaring them. In total, he brought in 14 protected species without the proper permits. These animals included a Eurasian otter, lynx, caracal, vervet monkey, greater naked-tailed armadillo, and king bird-of-paradise.
Kazmaier reportedly bought over 350 “wildlife items” from eBay and other online markets and brought them into the country. The total market value of these items was $14,423. However, none of the animals that he purchased were still alive. He mainly purchased taxidermy mounts, skeletons, and skulls.
The multilateral Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) controls the trade in threatened or endangered species by requiring permits. The U.S. is one of 183 countries that signed CITES in 1973 and that convenes every two to three years to amend its resolutions when necessary.
In total, he brought in 14 protected species without the proper permits. These animals included a Eurasian otter, lynx, caracal, vervet monkey, greater naked-tailed armadillo, and king bird-of-paradise.