Taxidermist Sentenced for Violating Wildlife Laws
CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas – A Corpus Christi taxidermist and hunting guide has been sentenced for violating the Lacey Act, the Endangered Species Act (ESA) and the Migratory Bird Treaty Act (MBTA), announced U.S. Attorney Kenneth Magidson.
Eric Martin Schmidt, 35, pleaded guilty before U.S. Magistrate Judge Jason B. Libby today. He was then ordered to pay a $2,500 community service payment to the Lacey Act Reward Fund and must serve five years of probation. Schmidt also abandoned more than 60 species of bird mounts that were illegally killed to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS).
Schmidt was charged by a criminal information with one count each of violating the Lacey Act, ESA and MBTA. The Lacey Act prohibits any person from knowingly importing, exporting, transporting, selling or purchasing any wildlife that was taken, possessed, transported or sold in violation of any law, statute, regulation or treaty of the United States or foreign country. The ESA prohibits any person subject to the jurisdiction of the United States to engage in the trade of any wildlife contrary to the provisions of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES). The MBTA prohibits any person, unless permitted by regulations, to pursue, hunt, take or capture any migratory bird included in the terms of the convention between the United States and other nations for the protection of migratory birds.
During the plea today, the court learned Schmidt is the owner of Alive Again Recreations, a taxidermy business he runs out of his residence in Corpus Christi. Schmidt is also the owner and operator of Global Game Birds (GGB). Through GGB, Schmidt offered hunting trips in Argentina, Peru, Scotland, South Africa, Australia and New Zealand to people with hunting opportunities for rarely seen species of birds.
In July 2011, Schmidt traveled from Corpus Christi to Peru and hunted approximately 30 indigenous birds including an Andean ruddy duck (Oxyura ferruginea) and a Torrent duck (Merganetta armata). At the conclusion of his hunting trip, Schmidt exported all 30 birds from Peru without an export permit.
In June 2012, Schmidt traveled to Argentina and returned to Corpus Christi with 18 birds he hunted in Argentina. Among the birds he killed and imported was one comb duck (Sarkidiornis melanotos), a species that is listed and protected under CITES.
In June 2013, Schmidt traveled to New Zealand and returned to Corpus Christi with 24 game and non-game birds he hunted in New Zealand. Among the birds he hunted, six were Pacific black ducks (Anas superciliosa) which are listed and protected under the MBTA.
FWS conducted the investigation. Assistant U.S. Attorney Hugo R. Martinez prosecuted the case.