A pair of live squirrels from Bali was seized by Australian Biosecurity and Border Force (ABF) at Brisbane Airport earlier this month.
The animals were allegedly sneaked in by a holiday-maker who had just returned home from Bali, reports Kompas. Following a tip-off from Border Watch, airport officers searched the man’s suitcase to uncover the two creatures. While the man’s motive is still ambiguous, the Australian Department of Agriculture’s stance is crystal clear.
“The fact that this passenger would deliberately violate the provisions of our biosecurity and put our country at risk is truly unbelievable,” said Nico Padovan, Head of Biosecurity Operations at Australia’s Department of Agriculture and Water Resources, as quoted in an article by Tempo.
Padovan stated the spread of rabies, a deadly disease already prevalent in Bali, as one of the possible disastrous outcomes of animal smuggling.
Backing up his colleague’s statement, Terry Price, ABF’s Regional Commander in Queensland, commented via the ABF website, “Wildlife smuggling is not only illegal but also very cruel and inhumane, with the animals often being smuggled for long periods of time without food and in limited space.”
Australia’s maximum penalty for individual wildlife smugglers is a sentence of ten years in prison and a fine of up to AUD210,000 (US$151,061). The two poor squirrels were euthanized for biosecurity reasons while the Australian resident may face criminal charges.