20 live finches smuggled into U.S. from Guyana (Pictures)

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U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers and agriculture specialists at John F. Kennedy International Airport discovered 20 live finches held in tube-shaped enclosures when inspecting the luggage of a Guyanese national who had just arrived on a flight from Georgetown, Guyana.

The unusual discovery, made on March 3, was made after agents examined the traveler’s hand-carry bag.

CBS Local reports: All 20 birds were seized and put in quarantine while the traveler was issued a $300 fine, refused entry into the United States and scheduled to return to Guyana. 

“CBP’s agriculture specialists protect our country every day from pests and diseases, the introduction of an animal or plant-borne pest or disease could have a devastating impact on America’s Agricultural industry,” said Leon Hayward, Acting Director of CBP’s New York Field Operations.

According to the CBP, all birds may also be subject to U.S. Department of Interior, Fish and Wildlife Service regulations. Pet birds are regulated since they can carry viral and bacterial diseases such as avian influenza, exotic Newcastle disease, and psittacosis.

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