Wednesday 19 February, 2020

Guyanese passenger deported after smuggling birds to US in curlers

Customs officials at New York's John F. Kennedy International Airport say they found 70 live finches hidden inside curlers or hair rollers.

Authorities say a passenger arriving from Guyana on Saturday had the songbirds in a duffel bag.

The New York Times reports that officials believe the birds were brought to the US to participate in singing contests. Customs officials say people bet on how many times the finches chirp, and a winning male finch can sell for up to $10,000.

The birds were turned over to veterinarians to the US Agriculture Department, and the passenger was sent back to Guyana.

US Customs and Border Protection says bird smuggling could threaten agriculture through the possible spread of diseases such as bird flu.

Customs officers have seized about 184 finches this year.

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