Would be budgie smugglers thwarted

1 November 2019

(Issued by Department of Agriculture)

Biosecurity officers at Sydney Airport recently averted cat-astrophe, intercepting luggage full of illegally imported whole dried birds, pet food, and unknown veterinary supplements.

Head of Biosecurity, Lyn O’Connell, said the items could have exposed Australia to the risks of avian influenza, a serious biosecurity threat to our animal health industries.

“Sydney biosecurity officers were conducting routine luggage checks when an x-ray revealed anomalies in a passenger’s bag,” Ms O’Connell said.

“Officers found whole dried birds, cat food, cat supplements and unknown veterinary therapeutics—items that could have carried avian influenza (AI) and foot-and-mouth disease (FMD).

“The presence of dead birds is particularly troubling due to the threat of avian influenza, a virus we’ve worked hard to keep out of Australia.

“If a highly pathogenic avian influenza outbreak were to occur in Australia, it would have devastating effects on our poultry meat and egg industries, which contribute enormously to our economy.

“The pet supplements contained goat’s milk, a possible carrier of FMD. FMD is recognised as being one of the world’s most serious livestock diseases.

“Recent testing of animal products confiscated at our borders have returned positive results for FMD, demonstrating the importance of keeping these prohibited items out of Australia.

“There is no excuse for risking Australia’s agriculture industries and the livelihoods of thousands. If you have biosecurity risk items, just declare them.”

The undeclared food items were destroyed and the passenger was issued an infringement notice.

For more information on items that should not be brought to Australia, visit Travelling or sending goods to Australia.