Texas biology professor charged with illegally smuggling exotic animal parts into US

A University of Texas biology professor faces charges of allegedly smuggling exotic animal parts into the United States, prosecutors said.

Richard Kazmaier, 54, who is an associate professor at West Texas A&M University in Canyon, Texas, was charged with allegedly importing protected wildlife items into the country without declaring them or obtaining the proper permits from US Fish. and Wildlife Service.

He received a summons last Thursday at his university office, according to court documents.

Prosecutors say that between 2017 and 2020, Kazmaier imported skulls, skeletons and taxidermy mounts of a number of exotic animals, including a golden jackal, caracal, Eurasian otter, vervet monkey and a variety of exotic birds.

It was unclear what Kazmaier, who is an expert on western snakes, lizards and tortoises, was using the animal parts for.

A message left for Kazmaier was not returned, and it was not immediately clear whether he had retained a lawyer.

In a statement, West Texas A&M said the case against Kazmaier — who has taught at the school since 2001 — did not involve the university.

“West Texas A&M University is aware of the situation involving a faculty member,” the statement said. “We are not specifically commenting on ongoing court cases, but the indictment does not implicate the University. WT will follow the matter closely.

The Endangered Species Act and federal regulations require anyone importing wildlife to report what they are bringing into the country to Customs and US Fish and Wildlife Service officials. Special permits for certain protected species are also required, including many animals that Kazmaier is said to have imported.

He faces up to 20 years in prison and $250,000 if convicted, prosecutors said.

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