Customs officials find dead birds in passenger’s luggage at Dulles International Airport

U.S. Customs and Border Protection agents confiscated a package of tiny dead birds from a passenger’s bag at Dulles International Airport in January, officials said.

The traveler arrived in the Washington area on a flight from Beijing on Jan. 27, WUSA reported. The traveler's final destination was a residence in Prince George's County, Maryland, the television station reported.

During a baggage examination, agricultural specialists discovered a package containing the small birds, WRC reported. The carrier said the birds were cat food, the television station reported. The package had a "bunch of unknown small birds" which were 2.5 inches to 3.5 inches in length, WJLA reported.

Airport officials said the importation of birds from China into the United States is prohibited because of the risk of a “potentially significant disease threat” of a highly pathogenic avian influenza, the television station reported. That disease has the potential to spread to the nation’s poultry industries, officials said.

The birds seized in January destroyed through incineration with the approval of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, WJLA reported.

Officials did not reveal the species of the bird.

"These dead birds are prohibited from importation to the United States as unprocessed birds pose a potentially significant disease threat to our nation's poultry industries and more alarmingly to our citizens as potential vectors of avian influenza," Casey Durst, Director of Field Operations for CBP's Baltimore Field Office, told WUSA. "Customs and Border Protection agriculture specialists continue to exercise extraordinary vigilance every day in their fight to protect our nation's agricultural and economic prosperity from invasive pests and animal diseases."

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