29 finches discovered in hair rollers in man's luggage at JFK airport
© US Customs and Border Protection

U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officers discovered 29 finches concealed in hair rollers in a man’s baggage at John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York. 

The officers discovered the birds during a baggage examination on Sunday at the New York airport after a 26-year-old man arrived on a flight from Georgetown, Guyana, according to a CBP statement.

The man, who was traveling to New Jersey, was allowed to withdraw his request to enter the country and returned to Guyana on Monday. CBP issued a $300 penalty and seized the birds alongside inspectors from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

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Officials quarantined the birds and turned them over to the Department of Agriculture Veterinary Services, according to CBP.

The birds were reportedly found placed in the hair rollers with netting adhered over the rollers' ends.

The agency noted that individuals can legally bring birds into the United States, but improperly imported birds pose a risk of potential bird flu outbreaks that could threaten the poultry industry. 

The incident on Sunday is not the first time officials have seized the same kind of birds at the New York airport.

Police in 2019 arrested a Connecticut man who they said attempted to smuggle 34 finches through the airport, also stored in hair curlers. Customs officials at JFK also found 70 live finches smuggled the same way in December 2018.