Dulles CBP Intercepts African Cat Skins, Giant Snail Shells

Washington, DC - U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) agriculture specialists have some skin in the game when it comes to protecting our nation’s natural resources. They work diligently to inspect imported cargo and arriving international travelers to intercept pests and potential plant and animal diseases at our nation’s international ports of entry.

CBP agriculture specialists discovered several animal pelts and head skins in air cargo at Washington Dulles International Airport August 29, 2019.
One of two unfinished animal head
skins and other animal pelts that CBP
discovered in air cargo.

And so it was skin, or more accurately, several skins that raised their protectionist attention recently at Washington Dulles International Airport.

While inspecting international air cargo, CBP agriculture specialists discovered three unfinished moldy ruminant skins, two unfinished ruminant head skins, and about 22 pounds of Giant African Land Snail shells in a shipment manifested as “African drums and clothes” transiting from Sierra Leone to Philadelphia August 29.

CBP agriculture specialists worked with U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) inspectors and identified the skins as being from bushbuck, genet, civet and other unknown animals. Bushbuck is a species of antelope, while genet and civet are small cat-like mammals. The head skins were mounted on unprocessed wood carvings.

USFWS ordered the skins and snail shells seized for violating numerous import requirements. CBP ordered the shipment destroyed as the unfinished pelts pose a potentially serious animal disease threat to American livestock.

“Customs and Border Protection agriculture specialists protect our nation’s agriculture and economy from a variety of potential threats every day, from the innocuous hotel fruit and airport sandwiches, to the more serious unfinished animal pelts that may be a vector for economy-crippling animal diseases,” said Casey Durst, Director of Field Operations for CBP’s Baltimore Field Office. “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 USFWS, U.S. Department of Agriculture Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (USDA-APHIS) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) regulate the importation of animals and animal products into the United States. Consignees and importers should consult their websites to ensure they comply with licensing, certification, and importation requirements.

CBP agriculture specialists perform a critical border security role in safeguarding America’s agricultural and natural resources from harmful pests and plant diseases. 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.

During a typical day last year, CBP agriculture specialists across the nation seized 4,552 prohibited plant, meat, animal byproduct, and soil, and intercepted 319 insect pests at U.S. ports of entry.