K-9 teams at Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport discovered a giant African snail in passenger luggage this week. Agriculture Customs and Border Protection officers work with a team of beagles to identify pests or prohibited products.
The USDA classifies A giant African snail as invasive species. They cause significant damage in tropical and subtropical environments such as much of the southern United States, as the snail consumes more than 400 plant species.
CBP Agriculture Specialist Aricia Sims said the agency is focused on preventing the spread of disease.
“With African snails, we have the potential for meningitis,” Sims said. “With monkey meat, we have AIDS concerns. It is transferable. So there’s a different number of species where we work not only with USDA, Fish and Wildlife, but we also work with [Centers for Disease Control and Prevention].”
Sims said unregulated food, such as bush and cane rat meat, or diseases such as citrus canker, can infect and devastate local food production. Travelers caught with undeclared prohibited food or animals face hefty fines.
CPB and K-9 agricultural specialists are trained to jointly screen international baggage and cargo that may contain invasive insects, federally prohibited plant species, and plant and animal diseases.
This story comes to Reporter Newspapers / Atlanta Intown thanks to a collaboration with reporters News of GPBnon-profit newsroom covering the state of Georgia.