Postal Service seeks to relax animal mailing limits

The Postal Service's existing restrictions allow for shipments of a handful of live fowl and game birds, including geese, turkeys and chickens, as well as bees, scorpions and some small cold-blooded animals including frogs, snails, goldfish and insects.

At present, shipments of live animals need to be marked accordingly, with a description of the contents. Shipments of honeybees or baby poultry must also include special handling service, unless they are sent via first-class or priority mail.

The Postal Service also handles live animal shipments differently if there is a risk of disease from the animals, to prevent against bad smells or obnoxious noises, or to protect the animals from death in transit.

The proposed rule, to be published in the Federal Register on Wednesday, would allow any disease-free live bird weighing 25 pounds or less to be sent through the mail system.

It would also would require shipments of amphibians and reptiles to be sent via express, priority or first-class mail, instead of standard mail classes.

Shippers of bees and birds would also need to purchase special handling regardless of their mailing class, and mailers purchasing special handling would have to either present their shipments at Postal Service retail locations or include a unique tracking barcode.

The proposal asserts, "The Postal Service consistently accepts, transports, and delivers live animals with additional care in handling, regardless of the mail class or the extra service being purchased."

The proposed relaxed restrictions come as the Postal Service seeks to revamp its business model and gain more autonomy. The service's board recently backed off of a controversial plan to end Saturday deliver, citing restrictions from Congress.