African cat skins, antelope head, giant snail shells confiscated by US Customs

Customs and Border Protection (CBP) agricultural specialists recently seized three moldy, unfinished animal skins and two animal heads, as well as 22 pounds of Giant African Land Snail shells at the Washington Dulles International Airport in Virginia, the agency said Thursday.

The cargo was en route from Sierra Leone, West Africa, to Philadelphia when it was discovered Aug. 29, CBP said. The shipment was labeled as “African drums and clothes.”

The skins and heads were identified as being from the bushback species of antelope, and genet and civet, which are cat-like mammals, according to CBP and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) inspectors.

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A Giant African Snail.

The animal heads were mounted on unprocessed wood carvings, inspectors said.

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One of two unfinished animal heads and three other animal pelts that were discovered by Customs and Border Protection (CBP) at Washington Dulles International Airport in Virginia in August. (CBP)

One of two unfinished animal heads and three other animal pelts that were discovered by Customs and Border Protection (CBP) at Washington Dulles International Airport in Virginia in August. (CBP)

The goods were ordered destroyed, as unfinished animal pelts present a significant threat of disease to American livestock, Customs and Border Protection noted.

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“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,” CBP’s Baltimore Field Office Director of Operations Casey Durst said.

“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,” Durst added.

CBP agricultural specialists seized 4,552 materials for quarantine — including prohibited plant, meat, animal or soil byproducts — and intercepted 319 insect pests at U.S. ports of entry on an average day in 2018.

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