Airport authorities at Dulles International Airport in Sterling, Virginia, discovered a suitcase on Jan. 27 containing dead birds from China.
A package inside the suitcase read "cat food."
What are the details?
According to WTHR-TV, the suitcase contained dozens of dead birds of an unknown variety ranging in size from 2.5 to 3.5 inches in length.
The suitcase belonged to a traveler from Beijing. Authorities say that the traveler's final destination was a residence in Prince George's County, Maryland. The traveler insisted that the birds were to be pet food.
Casey Durst, director of field operations for the U.S. Customs and Border Protection's Baltimore field office, said that such items are prohibited due to the risk of avian influenza.
"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," Durst said in a statement. "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."
A tweet from U.S. Customs and Border Protection said, "@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.'"
A media release from CBP also pointed out a typical day in 2019 turned up at least "4,695 prohibited plant, meat, animal byproduct, and soil."
"CBP agriculture specialists perform a critical border security role in safeguarding America's agricultural and natural resources from harmful pests and plant diseases," the release added. "They have extensive training and experience in the biological sciences and agricultural inspection, inspect tens of thousands of international air passengers, and air and sea cargoes nationally being imported to the United States."
A spokesperson for the CBP told People that the passenger who had the dead birds would not face criminal charges because he did declare that he was traveling with pet food.