Hairy biosecurity risk item stopped at border

Media contact: William Minchin

Untreated Australian horse hair destined for a Kiwi toy didn't make it any further than Wellington airport last week.

A Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) quarantine inspector seized the horse tail from a passenger arriving from Sydney.

The tail had come from a dead horse and had been supplied to the passenger by a taxidermist. It still had bits of skin hanging off it.

The passenger was planning to use the hair for a toy rocking horse.

"They don't come much stranger than this border interception," says Andrew Spelman, MPI Team Manager Central.

"The main problem was that the passenger didn't have documents to prove the hair had been treated to kill any bugs in the skin tissue or any hitchhiking organisms that could harm New Zealand horses or other parts of our primary sector."

It was also very dirty.

The tail will be allowed to enter New Zealand, but only after it is fumigated at the passenger's expense.

The passenger declared the tail, so did not receive any fine.

"We ask all passengers to declare or dispose any item that has potential biosecurity risk before they cross the border. And that's what this guy did. So that's great."

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