"Biosecurity nightmare" halted at border

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Media contact: MPI media team

Telephone: 029 894 0328

Email: media@mpi.govt.nz

A traveller's grisly gift for his family did not make it past airport biosecurity officers.

Arriving from Apia last week, the passenger declared a bat's head to Biosecurity New Zealand staff at Auckland Airport.

"The traveller said his family had eaten the rest of the bat in Samoa and he wanted to show the head to relatives based in New Zealand, says Craig Hughes, Biosecurity New Zealand passenger manager.

The head was in poor condition – partly mummified with loose flaps of skin.

"It was a biosecurity nightmare. Bats have a terrible reputation as disease carriers and the remains could have harboured hitchhiker pests. 

"You see some strange things carried by passengers in this job and this one is definitely up there. 

"Biosecurity New Zealand applauds the traveller's actions in declaring the risk item.

"It's what we want from all arriving international travellers. It's about everyone doing their bit to protect New Zealand, not to mention avoiding a stiff fine or other enforcement action."

Biosecurity officers seized and destroyed the head.

Biosecurity New Zealand is part of the Ministry for Primary Industries.

A dried, brown, slightly withered bat's head lying on a stainless steel shelf. You can see one of its eye sockets and some of its teeth.
The bat's head seized at Auckland Airport.
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