January 16th, 2008 13:15 EST
CBP Intercepts Endangered Species Bird on Cruise Vessel
San Juan, P.R. – On December 28, 2007, Customs and Border Protection (CBP) Agriculture Specialist were notified by cruise ship personnel that a live bird was on board the Cruise Vessel M/V Empress of the Seas arriving from Aruba. Birds are common on cruise vessels as part of entertainment shows for passengers. However, this bird was not performing on stage.
Per established protocol, the bird was seized by CBP and transferred to the custody of the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, Division of Veterinary Services.
On January 3, 2008, the bird was identified as a Brown-Throated Conure (Aratinga pertinax), which is an endangered species.
In addition to smuggled birds, restricted items include meat, fruits, vegetables, plants, soil and products made from animal or plant materials. Travelers must declare all agriculture items and present them to CBP for inspection so that an Agriculture Specialist can determine if they are admissible.
Smuggled birds brought into the United States without undergoing inspection or quarantine can increase the chance that deadly avian diseases such as avian influenza, exotic Newcastle disease and parrot fever will infect the U.S. bird population and spread to people or other animals. Also, Customs and Border Protection may impose civil penalties of $300 for first time offense, for failure to declare agricultural items at U.S. ports of entry.
“Smuggling birds decreases the population of these already endangered species” said Marcelino Borges, Director Field Operations. “Also, it threatens our livestock industry. Anyone interested in importing a bird into the U.S. should ensure that they consult the proper authorities prior to arriving at the port.” Maria Palmer, Area Port Direct said “CBP’s Agriculture Specialists are trained to follow procedures to minimize the risk to the public and safeguard the animals.”
U.S. Customs and Border Protection is the unified border agency within the Department of Homeland Security charged with the management, control and protection of our nation's borders at and between official ports of entry. CBP is charged with keeping terrorists and terrorist weapons out of the country while enforcing hundreds of U.S. laws.