STERLING, Va. – There’s nothing funny about the bones that U.S. Customs and Border Protection agriculture specialists recently discovered in the baggage of a Virginia woman at Washington Dulles International Airport.
During a secondary baggage examination on November 10, CBP agriculture specialists discovered bones that the Fauquier County, Va., the woman admitted were giraffe and zebra bones she found in Kenya and kept as souvenirs. CBP detained the bones and checked with U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) inspectors on admissibility.
On November 17, USFWS inspectors reported that the bones violated provisions of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES), the Endangered Species Act (ESA), and the Lacey Act. USFWS directed CBP to seize the bones.
The woman, whose name CBP has not been released because she was not criminally charged, was initially referred to a secondary agriculture examination for declaring that she possessed a small Acacia tree twig. She then amended her declaration to include the bones after CBP agriculture specialists x-rayed her baggage and discovered an anomaly. The Acacia tree twig was admissible. CBP released the woman after agriculture specialists detained the bones.
“I can appreciate travelers wanting to keep souvenirs of their vacations, but those souvenirs could violate United States or international law, or potentially expose our families, pets, or our nation’s agriculture industries to serious animal or plant diseases,” said Kim Der-Yeghiayan, Acting Area Port Director for CBP’s Area Port of Washington, D.C. “Customs and Border Protection strongly encourages all travelers to know what they can and cannot pack in their baggage before returning to or visiting the United States and to declare all items upon arrival.”