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Philadelphia CBP Agriculture Specialists Play Fox Catcher

Release Date: 
November 8, 2019

PHILADELPHIA – U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) agriculture specialists have seen some strange things packed into foreign visitors’ baggage at Philadelphia International Airport, but there’s always room for one more interesting find.

Philadelphia CBP agriculture specialists detained this unfinished African fox head discovered in the baggage of a Senegalese mother and daughter September 12, 2019.
CBP seized this African fox head
that two Senegalese women were
bringing to a relative in the U.S.
to "ward off evil spirits."

CBP agriculture specialists observed an image of an animal’s skull during an x-ray examination of a Senegalese mother and daughter’s baggage September 12. The eight-inch unfinished skull was of an unknown animal with hair and teeth. The women reported they were bringing the skull for a cousin who intended to use it to ward off evil spirits.

CBP agriculture specialists advised the travelers that the fox head would be detained pending U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) admissibility determination. The travelers decided to abandon the fox head to CBP.

USFWS inspectors identified the skull as belonging to an African fox, Vulpes pallida, and CBP turned over the fox head to USFWS for violating numerous federal animal and animal product import requirements.

“Customs and Border Protection agriculture specialists protect our nation’s agriculture and economy from a variety of potential threats every day, from the seemingly innocuous hotel fruit and airport sandwiches, to the more serious unfinished animal skulls that may be a vector for economy-damaging animal diseases,” said Casey Durst, Director of Field Operations for CBP’s Baltimore Field Office. “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.”

The USFWS, the U.S. Department of Agriculture Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (USDA-APHIS), and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) regulate the importation of animals and animal products into the United States. Consignees and importers should consult these agencies’ websites to ensure that they comply with licensing, certification, and importation requirements.

CBP agriculture specialists perform a critical border security role in safeguarding America’s agricultural and natural resources from harmful pests and plant diseases. They have extensive training and experience in the biological sciences and agricultural inspection.

CBP agriculture specialists work diligently to inspect imported air and sea cargo and arriving international travelers every day to intercept pests and potential plant and animal diseases at our nation’s international ports of entry. During a typical day last year, CBP agriculture specialists across the nation seized 4,552 prohibited plant, meat, animal byproduct, and soil, and intercepted 319 insect pests at U.S. ports of entry. See what else CBP achieved on a typical day during 2018.

CBP encourages foreign visitors to 'know before you go' by viewing general guidelines on a variety of prohibited or restricted products, or by visiting CBP's Travel site at

Last modified: 
March 12, 2020