Update! Disgraced Texas Biologist, Dr. Richard Kazmaier, Receives Light Sentence For Illegal Wildlife Trafficking

Photos from West Texas A&M University

On January 10th, a federal judge in Amarillo, Texas, sentenced Dr. Richard Kazmaier to six months in prison, three years of post-release supervision, and a $5,000 fine. Kazmaier pleaded guilty on August 19, 2022, to a Lacey Act felony for importing protected wildlife into the United States without declaring it or obtaining the required permits. The 55-year-old seems to have received only a fraction of what he deserves.

When WAN first reported on the case on February 1, 2022, it was determined that if convicted, Kazmaier would receive a maximum of 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine for the felony smuggling charges.

According to court documents, Kazmaier was an associate professor of biology at West Texas A&M University before resigning in October 2022. A federal grand jury issued an indictment in January 2022 charging Kazmaier with smuggling goods into the United States and two violations of the Endangered Species Act. Kazmaier pleaded guilty to a superseding information charging the Lacey Act, the nation’s oldest wildlife trafficking statue. The court dismissed the indictment at the government’s request.

Kazmaier had been a faculty member at West Texas A&M University since 2001. WAN was informed in February of last year that Kazmaier was deleted from the staff directory on the West Texas A&M University website.

The Lacey Act and federal regulations require importers to declare wildlife to customs and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service when entering the country. Between March of 2013 and February of 2020, Kazmaier admitted that he imported wildlife items from Bulgaria, Canada, China, Czech Republic, Indonesia, Latvia, Norway, Russia, South Africa, Spain, the United Kingdom, and Uruguay into Texas without declaring them. Kazmaier admitted that he purchased and imported approximately 358 wildlife items from eBay and other online websites with a total market value of $14,423. He did not import any live animals and instead purchased mostly skulls, skeletons, and taxidermy mounts.

The Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) regulates trade in endangered or threatened species through permit requirements. The United States and 183 other countries are signatories to the CITES treaty. Kazmaier acknowledged importing 14 protected species without obtaining permits, including the Eurasian otter, lynx, caracal, and a vervet monkey among others.

As per a statement from the U.S. Department of Justice, The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s Office of Law Enforcement conducted the investigation as part of Operation Global Reach. The operation focused on the trafficking of wildlife from Indonesia to the United States.

You can help all animals and our planet by choosing compassion on your plate and in your glass. #GoVeg

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