A bag of dead birds was seized from the luggage of a passenger traveling from China to Washington, D.C., U.S. Customs officials said Monday.
The package was intercepted during an inspection at Dulles International Airport on Jan. 27, according to a statement from U.S. Customs and Border Protection.
The passenger, who arrived from Beijing, told officials the birds were cat food and that he was planning to bring them to Maryland after his flight.
Birds from China are prohibited for import into the U.S. due to the possible spread of bird flu, according to federal officials.
.@CBP agriculture specialists at Dulles airport continue to protect our nation's vital agricultural resources and our economy by intercepting potential animal threats, like those posed by these tiny dead birds from China packaged as "pet food." Read https://t.co/uJj5o5xfmN pic.twitter.com/xTldZ6G6jM
— CBP Mid-Atlantic (@CBPMidAtlantic) February 10, 2020
“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, the director of Field Operations for CBP’s Baltimore Field Office, said in the statement.
According to authorities, the birds were “destroyed by incineration” with approval from the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
During a typical day last year, CBP agriculture specialists nationwide seized nearly 5,000 prohibited plants, meat, animal byproducts and soil, and intercepted 314 insect pests at U.S. ports of entry.