In these tense times, customs agents at BWI Airport are on high alert for all threats, big or small. This month, they protected our borders from a taxidermied Atlantic puffin that a passenger brought in from Iceland.
After finding the stuffed, deceased bird on June 2, authorities called the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, which sent its own agents to confiscate it four days later. In a release sent out today, authorities said its transport was, somewhat ironically, illegal because it’s a migratory bird.
The Migratory Bird Treaty Act, which took effect 99 years ago, “makes it illegal for anyone to take, possess, import, export, transport, sell, purchase, barter, or offer for sale, purchase, or barter, any migratory bird” or its parts, nests or eggs without a permit. This dead puffin fit that description, as it’s a member of a species native to the North Atlantic region that disperses to unknown areas from August through early spring, per the Audobon Society. The bird isn’t endangered, but it is considered threatened by human activity.
The passenger who tried to smuggle in the stuffed puffin was released without any penalty, the agency said.
Customs and Border Patrol agriculture specialists have been doing good work finding obscure invaders entering the United States through Baltimore’s ports. Last month, they found a globe-trotting Khapra beetle in a shipping container filled with metal screws. The insect has been known to feed on grains, cereals and other foods and severely upset the bellies of humans who eat its contaminated leftovers.
“CBP agriculture specialists are our nation’s frontline protectors of our nation’s agriculture industries,” said Dianna Bowman, the agency’s Baltimore-area port director, in a statement. “They take their job very serious.”
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