Iowa taxidermist pleads guilty to trafficking rhino horns

AP News
Posted: May 13, 2015 6:56 PM

CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa (AP) — A taxidermist has pleaded guilty to purchasing and transporting black rhinoceros horns from Oregon to Iowa.

The U.S. Attorney's Office for the Northern District of Iowa says 39-year-old James Hess, of Maquoketa, Iowa, entered his plea Wednesday to one count of violating the Lacey Act. The 1990 federal law criminalizes sales of animals protected under the Endangered Species Act. Black rhinos are classified as critically endangered. It's illegal to traffic their horns across state lines.

In a plea agreement, Hess said he bought a pair of black rhinoceros horns online from a seller in Oregon. He later shipped them back to Maquoketa and gave them to someone else in Iowa.

Hess owns Wildlife Pride Taxidermy and Decor in Maquoketa. He faces up to five years in prison.