Detroit Metropolitan Airport personnel came across a half-dozen sizable snails in a traveler’s suitcase at the Michigan airport last week.
Agents working for U.S. Customs in conjunction with the agricultural division of Border Protection confiscated and subsequently seized a total of six Giant African Snails on March 9, according to the Detroit News. The slithering gastropods were intercepted from luggage reportedly belonging to a man from Ghana.
SERIOUS SNAIL SITUATION! Giant African land snails have been found in Lee County. They make look harmless, but they can actually hurt our agriculture. Homeowners in the area tell me they had no idea, until state officials showed up to spray the area. https://t.co/o2FUFvNVIF pic.twitter.com/rSq54T0hTV
— Kaitlin Knapp (@Kaitlin_Knapp1) March 17, 2023
“The discovery of this highly invasive pest truly benefits the health and well-being of the American people,” Port Director Robert Larkin remarked in a Friday press release. “Our CBP officers and agriculture specialists work diligently to target, detect, and intercept potential threats before they have a chance to do harm to U.S. interests.” (RELATED: Woman Faces Animal Cruelty Charges After Officials Recover 49 Mini Horses and 39 Chickens)
Though the press release noted that the organism is banned in the U.S., the said snail species is considered a “popular” source of food and is even kept as a pet elsewhere around the world.
The snails have the potential to posses a parasitic nematode that can bring about meningitis in the human body. Furthermore, they can “cause significant damage to structures and ecosystems” alike, the statement noted. (RELATED: Hero Dog Rescues Owner From Deadly Black Mamba Snake)
Giant African Snails are described as being an invasive and threatening species that should be reported “immediately,” according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service. The first time the snail species was discovered on American soil was in Florida in the 1960s. It “took 10 years and $1 million to eradicate it,” according to the federal agency.
The snails breed rapidly at a rate of 1,200 eggs per year, the agency noted.