Los Angeles—U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) agriculture specialists at Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) seized a live song bird that started hopping inside the plane cabin two hours before landing on a 10-hour flight from Taiwan. CBP officials suspect a failed animal smuggling attempt.
On May 26, CBP agriculture specialists were notified that a passenger reported to airline personnel that an animal was hopping around his area. A member of the flight crew captured the bird and put it in a plastic bag inside a white Styrofoam box.
CBP agriculture specialists met the plane upon arrival. Passengers were instructed to remain in their seats while the bird was removed. The animal was transferred immediately to a cage approved to handle birds and was provided with water and bird food/seeds.
All the passengers, crew members and their carry-on bags were screened and sent to agriculture secondary for x-ray inspections of their belongings. No other birds or any signs (bird droppings, feathers, etc.) were discovered.
“By preventing the introduction of foreign animal diseases, CBP agriculture specialists protect America’s agriculture resources. Animal diseases such as avian influenza (AI) can affect other avian species and be potentially fatal,” said Todd C. Owen, CBP Director of Field Operations in Los Angeles.
The bird was identified as the same species as one of the song birds seized by CBP at LAX in the past. On June 8, 2010, a Garden Grove man was sentenced to four months in prison and ordered to pay $4,000.00 in restitution after pleading guilty to illegally importing 14 song birds strapped to his legs as he arrived at LAX from Vietnam.
The seized bird was turned over to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) veterinary services.
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.