Pigeon Smugglers Stopped at U.S.-Canadian Border With Birds Hidden in Pockets

Border agents pulled four live birds from the pockets of a pigeon collector and a traveling companion trying to enter the United States from Canada.

The pair were stopped Sunday at the Lewiston-Queenston Bridge border crossing, where they told inspectors they were on their way to visit an uncle in LeRoy, outside Rochester, Customs and Border Protection spokesman Kevin Corsaro said.

Inspectors found the pigeons wrapped and taped from neck to tail in pockets of the pair's coats after they asked the men from Uxbridge, Ontario, to remove their jackets.

One man told CBP officers he is a pigeon collector who belongs to a club that trades and sells birds of various colors. He said he was taking the birds to trade or sell to his uncle.

The men, whose names were not released, were fined $1,000 and the case was referred to U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and United States Department of Agriculture inspectors for possible criminal charges, Corsaro said.

People bringing pet birds into the country are required to arrange for a veterinary inspection at the border three to five days before entering to protect against the transmission of communicable diseases such as bird flu.

USDA inspectors took custody of the birds.