CBP Intercepts 67 Extremely Invasive Giant African Snails at LAX
U.S. Customs and Border agents may have to allow young unaccompanied illegal immigrants into the country, but giant African snails are turned away. According to a CBP press release, U.S. Customs & Border Protection (CBP) agriculture specialists at Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) inspected an air cargo shipment declared as 67 live snails. Paperwork accompanying the giant foreign mollusks described them as Achatina Fulica for human consumption.
The snails came in from Lagos, Nigeria in two plastic basket packages, CBP says, and weighed slightly more than 35 pounds in total and were destined for San Dimas, California. :
After submitting an urgent sample to United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Plant Protection and Quarantine entomologists, their acting national mollusk specialist in Washington, D.C., identified them as
Giant African Snails - scientifically known as Archachatina (Calachatina) marginata var. ovum (Pfeiffer) (Achatinidae). CBP received notification of this on July 7.
Native to Africa, their other commonly known names are Giant African Land Snail, West African Snail, West African Land Snail, Banana Rasp Snail, and Margie.
“This significant interception of Giant African Snails is the first time this pest has been encountered in such large quantity and as a consumption entry by CBP in Los Angeles. It exemplifies how CBP agriculture specialists protect our nation’s agriculture from the introduction of threatening foreign pests, plants and diseases,” said Todd C. Owen, CBP director of field operations in Los Angeles.
The USDA stressed the importance of protecting the shipment of they say to be "one of the most extremely damaging snail species." CBP transferred the shipment of giant snails to USDA’s local Plant Inspection Station for final disposition.
"These pests are a very serious threat to our agriculture, natural ecosystem, public health and economy. They can consume more than 500 types of plants and, if vegetables or fruits are not available, will even eat the paint and stucco off of houses. They can be carriers of several parasites which are harmful to humans, one of which can lead to meningitis," the CBP release says.
The species is one of the world’s largest land snails and can grow up to about eight inches long, about five inches in diameter and could live up to 10 years. CBP is suggesting preventive measures that include "include strict quarantine to prevent introduction and further spread."