Now that’s just gross: Border agents seize boxes of Bulgarian bloodsucking leeches – Boston News, Weather, Sports
(CNN) – Philadelphia Customs and Border Protection officials recently made a series of slimy discoveries – some 300 leeches sent from Bulgaria and bound for points across the United States.
The bloodsuckers were arrested while on nine pots, more than six air cargo shipments between February 19 and 25. They were destined for addresses in Connecticut, Florida and Illinois, according to a CBP press release.
Labels on the jars indicated they contained a species, and the US Fish and Wildlife Service identified them as Hirudo medicinalis, a species of leech used in medical bloodletting, CBP said.
It is a protected species that cannot be traded internationally, according to the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES).
“Most species of leeches are not in danger of extinction. Only one species, the medicinal leech Hirudo medicinalis, has legal protection,” says BioKIDS, a science education program co-sponsored by the University of Michigan. “This species has been found throughout Europe and western Asia, but has been collected so heavily for medical and research purposes that it is extinct in many parts of its range.”
CBP officers often seize unusual items “like this jar full of disgusting bloodsuckers,” said Joseph Martella, CBP’s Philadelphia port regional manager.
In January, they found a stuffed bird being shipped from the UK to Quebec.
Seizures last year included crocodile skins from Sierra Leone and ivory from poached tusks of protected pachyderms (elephants, rhinos or hippos), according to the CBP statement.
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