U.S. Customs and Border Protection agents recently seized baggage containing dead birds, which a passenger was attempting to pass off as “cat food,” agency officials revealed this week.
The traveler, who arrived on a flight from Beijing, China on Jan. 27, was heading toward Prince George’s County, Maryland, CBS affiliate WUSA9 reported.
After opening up the passenger’s baggage,CBP agriculture specialists at Dulles International Airport in Virginia discovered a package full of deceased small birds.
The traveler told agents the package contained “cat food.”
The agency said on Twitter the birds posed “potential animal threats,” including the highly pathogenic avian influenza.
The birds were incinerated with the approval of U.S. Department of Agriculture, according to WUSA9.
.@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." Read https://t.co/uJj5o5xfmN pic.twitter.com/xTldZ6G6jM
— CBP Mid-Atlantic (@CBPMidAtlantic) February 10, 2020
China’s Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Affairs said over the weekend that cases of the deadly H5N1 bird flu have been reported in the Hunan province near the origin point of coronavirus.
Last month, China announced a temporary nationwide ban on the sale of wildlife in markets, restaurants and e-commerce platforms after a coronavirus outbreak in the country was traced to bats.
The virus, believed to have originated late last year in a seafood market in the central Chinese city of Wuhan that was illegally selling wildlife, has spread to cities including Beijing and Shanghai and raised alarms about its potential to inflict global harm.