A package of tiny dead birds hidden in a passenger’s bag has been confiscated by Customs agents at a Virginia airport.
U.S. Customs and Border Protection intercepted the package at Dulles International Airport after the passenger landed on a flight from China on January 27.
The passenger told agents that package of dead birds was just cat food.
The plastic packaging had pictures of a cat and dog on the outside – similar to what pet treats look like.
Inside the bag were a number of dead dried birds, which were about 2.5 inches to 3.5 inches long.
Agents say the passenger was en route from Beijing to Prince George’s County in Maryland when they were caught.
The birds are barred from importation to the U.S. to prevent the spread of avian flu.
The package of birds was incinerated after being discovered, according to Customs agents.
It is likely that the contents of the package wasn’t picked up in China because it was disguised as pet food, U.S. agents said.
‘These dead birds are prohibited from importation to the United States as unprocessed birds pose a potentially significant disease threat to our nation’s poultry industries and more alarmingly to our citizens as potential vectors of avian influenza,’ Casey Durst, director of field operations for CBP’s Baltimore Field Office, said.
‘Customs and Border Protection agriculture specialists continue to exercise extraordinary vigilance every day in their fight to protect our nation’s agricultural and economic prosperity from invasive pests and animal diseases.’
Customs agents made no mention of any potential coronavirus risk related to the dead birds.
The deadly virus is suspected to have originated in wild animal meat sold in Chinese markets.