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Local senior faces prison for trafficking ivory

Chris Caya WBFO News

A Cattaraugus County senior is facing time in federal prison for trafficking in prohibited wildlife.

U.S. Attorney William Hochul says Ferdinand Krizan, 77, of Franklinville was caught trafficking in ivory and pleaded guilty. Hochul says the way to end the slaughtering of elephants is to end the market for ivory product.

"Through enforcement of the law, number one, and then second by just absolutely educating the public that there were living breathing giants that were once walking the Earth. Which if at the present rate continues the slaughtering by poachers it could very easily end in the extinction of these species," Hochul said.

Federal and state investigators found Krizan possessed and intended to traffic a half a ton of ivory products with an estimated value $320,000.

The lead prosecutor, Assistant U.S. Attorney Aaron Mango, says Krizan purchased tusks in Montreal and smuggled it in to the U.S. across the Rainbow Bridge. Mango says the seized ivory could end up being crushed.  

"New York State and the federal authorities will not tolerate the commercialization of animals for ivory. The idea of crushing it is to send the message that once this is obtained, it will be removed from the stream of commerce," said Mango.

Buffalo Zoo President Donna Fernandes says poachers prefer larger more valuable tusks found on older elephants.   

"Those are so important to the whole social fabric of elephant society. They know the ways to the watering holes. They know how to survive when there are droughts. They keep the young bulls in line. When you disrupt a society, you're basically dooming a lot of other animals to death through fighting internally," said Fernandes.

At sentencing in May, Krizan faces up to five years in prison and a $250,000 fine.