AMARILLO, Texas (ABC4) – A Texas biologist has been indicted by a federal grand jury for allegedly importing protected wildlife items into the country without declaring it or obtaining the required permits.
Dr. Richard Kazmaier, 54, an associate professor of biology at West Texas A&M University, was charged Thursday with smuggling goods into the United States and two violations of the Endangered Species Act, a press release states.
The Endangered Species Act and federal regulations require importers, like Kazmaier, to declare wildlife, including parts and products, to customs and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service when it enters the country.
The indictment charges that, between March 2017 and February 2020, Kazmaier imported wildlife items from around the world into the United States without declaring them. These items included skulls, skeletons, and taxidermy mounts.
The Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) regulates trade in endangered or threatened species through permit requirements, which Kazmaier also did not have.
Kazmaier is charged with importing wildlife items from 14 protected species without obtaining permits, including the Eurasian otter, lynx, caracal, vervet monkey, greater naked-tailed armadillo, and king bird-of-paradise.
The maximum sentence for the felony smuggling charge is 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine. The two Endangered Species Act charges are misdemeanors with a maximum sentence of one-year incarceration and a $100,000 fine.