MIAMI-DADE COUNTY, Fla. – A passenger who arrived Monday at Miami International Airport from Varadero, Cuba, was found with a plastic bottle containing two birds, U.S. Customs and Border Protection officials confirmed in a news release.
According to authorities, one of the finches was dead.
“Wild birds can carry viruses that are harmful to humans and agriculture,” Chris Maston, CBP Port Director of Field Operation at Miami International Airport, said. “This interception is indicative of the detail CBP officers and agriculture specialists go through at the forefront of protecting our nation from these threats.”
According to authorities, the small medicine bottle was marked “Vitamin C-500 MG” and had holes drilled in it.
CBP agriculture specialists took custody of the birds, which were detained under quarantine and turned over to U.S. Department of Agriculture Veterinary Services.
Authorities said the birds were smuggled into the U.S. in violation of the Migratory Bird Treaty Act, but did not confirm whether the passenger was arrested.
“The Migratory Bird Treaty Act of 1918 (MBTA), first enacted over a century ago prohibits numerous activities considered to be harmful to birds, including their pursuit, hunting, barter, purchase, shipping, exportation and importation,” the news release stated. “The statute makes it unlawful without a waiver to partake in any of these activities with birds listed therein as migratory birds. The statute does not discriminate between live or dead birds and also grants full protection to any bird parts including feathers, eggs, and nests. Over 800 species are currently on the list.”
According to the news release, wildlife smuggling is the fourth-largest illicit trade, following narcotics, human trafficking and counterfeit products.