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Texas biologist gets 6 months in prison for wildlife trafficking

Former West Texas A&M biologist Dr. Richard Kazmaier has been sentenced to six months in prison for illegally importing wildlife parts. He did not import living animals, but skulls, skeletons and taxidermy mounts for several species, including the king bird-of-paradise pictured. Photo By Wikimedia Commons
1 of 2 | Former West Texas A&M biologist Dr. Richard Kazmaier has been sentenced to six months in prison for illegally importing wildlife parts. He did not import living animals, but skulls, skeletons and taxidermy mounts for several species, including the king bird-of-paradise pictured. Photo By Wikimedia Commons

Jan. 11 (UPI) -- Former Texas A&M University biologist Dr. Richard Kazmaier will spend six months in prison and three years of post-release supervision after pleading guilty to a wildlife trafficking felony, the Justice Department said Wednesday.

Kazmaier was also ordered to pay a $5,000 fine after was indicted in January 2022 and admitted he imported approximately 358 "wildlife items" between March 2013 and February 2020 without declaring them at customs and failed to apply for required permits.

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No living animals were imported, but Kazmaier purchased skulls, skeletons and taxidermy mounts with a market value of $14,423 from Bulgaria, Canada, China, Czech Republic, Indonesia, Latvia, Norway, Russia, South Africa, Spain, the United Kingdom, and Uruguay through eBay and other websites.

Kazmaier acknowledged he imported items from 14 species protected under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora which regulates trade in endangered or threatened species in 183 signatory countries.

The items Kazmaier illegally imported were from the Eurasian otter, lynx, caracal, vervet monkey, greater naked-tailed armadillo, and king bird-of-paradise.

Kazmaier violated the oldest wildlife trafficking statute -- the Lacey Act. He pleaded guilty in August.

The criminal investigation was done by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service's Office of Law Enforcement in Redmond, Wash., as part of Operation Global Reach. It focused on wildlife trafficking from Indonesia to the United States.

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