Customs officials arrested a man who arrived at Miami International Airport from Varadero, Cuba, on Monday, with two wild birds hidden in a vitamin bottle.
A Customs and Border Protection spokesperson, Zach Mann, told el Nuevo Herald that the birds were tomeguines — grassquits — one of which was dead, inside the plastic container poked with holes to let the birds breathe.
“Wild birds can carry viruses that are harmful to humans and agriculture,” said Chris Maston, Director of Field Operations of the CBP Port at Miami International Airport.
“This interception is indicative of the details that CBP officers and agricultural specialists pass to the forefront to protect our nation from these threats,” he added.
The birds were delivered to the Department of Agriculture, where they proceeded to identify them. According to CBP, the person who brought them smuggled in violation of the Migratory Bird Treaty Law.
“The Migratory Bird Treaty Act of 1918, promulgated for the first time more than a century ago, prohibits numerous activities considered harmful to birds, including their search, hunting, barter, purchase, shipment, export and import,” Mann, the CBP spokesperson, added.
“The statute does not discriminate between live or dead birds and also grants total protection to parts of birds, including feathers, eggs and nests. More than 800 species are currently on the list,” he said.