Houston - U.S. Customs and Border Protection agriculture specialists seized a shipment of household goods arriving from Kenya April 28 because it contained skins, feathers and other animal parts belonging to endangered and protected species.
"Our agriculture specialists are experts in biology and entomology and are careful and deliberate in their inspections. When they encounter animal products, they take the steps to involve the appropriate agencies," said Jeffrey O. Baldwin Sr., CBP Houston field office director. "This seizure is indicative of the cooperative effort among federal agencies to protect our nation from exotic diseases."
The shipment included a hide from an African Civet cat used to decorate a drum. The Center for Disease Control restricts the importation of civet and civet products because they are linked to the Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS).
The shipment also included African porcupine quills, which are linked to the Monkey Pox virus. Monkey Pox belongs to a group of viruses that includes the smallpox virus (variola), the virus used in the smallpox vaccine (vaccinia), and the cowpox virus.
A knife handle fashioned out of a rhinoceros horn was discovered hidden in a box marked clothing. The Rhinoceros and Tiger Conservation Act of 1994 protects the endangered rhinoceros. Feathers from a Lesser Nightjar were also discovered in the shipment. The nightjars are protected by the Migratory Bird Treaty Act of 1918.
These items along with any item that was in direct contact with civet fur and porcupine quills were seized in accordance with CDC Health and Human Services laws and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service regulations. These agencies will determine destruction and disposition of the seized items.
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 the official ports of entry. CBP is charged with keeping terrorists and terrorist weapons out of the country while enforcing hundreds of U.S. laws.