News and Commentary

Suitcase Full Of Dead Birds From China Intercepted At Virginia Airport
A woman pushes her luggage cart past unclaimed bags inside the US Customs and Border Protection inspection area at Dulles International Airport (IAD), December 21, 2011 in Sterling, Virgina, near Washington, DC.
PAUL J. RICHARDS/AFP via Getty Images

No matter what the reason, we should all be able to agree that sending a suitcase full of dead birds – from anywhere, to anywhere – is not right.

The ordeal is made more disturbing by the fact that the suitcase was sent from China, which is currently dealing with the coronavirus and has struggled in the past with a bird flu epidemic. WTHR reported Monday that U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) agents intercepted a package at Dulles International Airport in Virginia that was filled with small dead birds.

“According to officials, the traveler arrived on a flight from Beijing, China on Jan. 27, 2020 where the traveler’s final destination was to a residence in Prince George’s County, Maryland,” the outlet reported. “During a baggage examination, CBP specialists discovered a package with pictures of a cat and dog that the passenger said was ‘cat food.’ The package, according to officials, contained a bunch of unknown small birds, about 2.5 to 3.5 inches in length.”

CBP provided disturbing images of the pet-food packaging that does, in fact, contain dead birds.

As one can imagine, importing dead animals such as birds from China isn’t a good idea.

“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,” said Casey Durst, director of field operations for CBP’s Baltimore Field Office. “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.”

CBP published a press release about the find that included an additional quote from Durst.

“Customs and Border Protection agriculture specialists protect our nation’s agricultural industries from a variety of potential threats every day, including from highly pathogenic animal diseases that threaten our nation’s economy,” Durst continued. “CBP agriculture specialists continue to exercise extraordinary vigilance in their fight to protect our nation’s agriculture and economic prosperity from invasive pests and animal diseases.”

The press release also said the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) “regulate the importation of animals and animal products into the United States.”

On any given day in 2019, CBP agriculture officials across the country likely “seized 4,695 prohibited plant, meat, animal byproduct, and soil, and intercepted 314 insect pests at U.S. ports of entry.”

As of January 2020, the World Health Organization (WHO) reported that between 2003 and 2020, there were 861 cases of avian influenza reported around the world. An estimated 455 people died due to the virus.

China is currently dealing with an epidemic of the coronavirus, which has killed hundreds, possibly thousands, of people in the communist nation already. The WHO suggested on Monday that the deaths so far “may be the tip of the iceberg.” It is so far estimated that more than 1,000 people have died from the virus while more than 40,000 were infected.

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