June 21, 2017
It's snail mail – for real.
Federal authorities seized seven pounds of the slimy creatures while inspecting express international packages near the Philadelphia International Airport earlier this month, U.S. Customs and Border Protection announced in a news release Tuesday.
Officials at the U.S. Department of Agriculture later identified the snail species as Eobania vermiculata, better known as "chocolate-banded snails," in a large box that was supposed to contain "shoes and honey" en route to Hartford, Connecticut from Italy on June 2.
“Seven pounds of live snails is a unique find, and an example of the vigilance demonstrated by Customs and Border Protection agriculture specialists in protecting our nation’s agricultural industries,” said Shawn Polley, Acting CBP Port Director for the Area Port of Baltimore, in the news release. “CBP agriculture specialists are our nation’s frontline agriculture protectors and they take their job very seriously.”
The species is native to the Meditteranean region, but is also very invasive, posing a threat to gardens and vineyards, according to the Texas Invasive Species Institute.
Officials have issued the snails' buyer a violation for the package's mislabeling.