A beagle trained to sniff out potentially invasive plants at Baltimore Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport is being hailed as a hero for detecting 21 prohibited, propagative plants and bags of bulbs in a family’s luggage earlier this month.
U.S. Customs and Border Protection said Gatsby, part of their “Beagle Brigade,” alerted to the luggage of a family of three that had arrived on a flight to Maryland from Iceland on Jan. 7. Inside, U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers found 21 propagative plants, which may be invasive and pose a threat to crops.
“Finding such a vast quantity of plants and bulbs in one family’s baggage is unusual and the potential threat these items pose to our nation’s agricultural resources underscores the importance of travelers knowing what they can and cannot bring to the United States,” said Adam Rottman, Area Port Director for CBP’s Area Port of Baltimore.
U.S. Customs and Border Protection said the family claimed it was only carrying tulip bulbs.
Officers seized the prohibited plant materials for disposal. The family was ordered to pay a $300 fine and were released to return to their Frederick County, Virginia, home.
Passengers are required to get phytosanitary certificates from the original country verifying that plants meet U.S. entry requirements. U.S. Customs and Border Protection said all travelers should visit the agency’s travel website if they have questions about what they can and can’t bring into the country.
During a typical day last year, U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers nationwide seized around 4,500 prohibited plants, meats, animal byproducts or soils, and intercepted 319 insect pests at U.S. ports of entry.
“This is another in a long series of important finds by Gatsby and Customs and Border Protection’s Beagle Brigade,” Rottman said.