U.S. Customs, Border Protection Prevent Smuggling Of Invasive Mitten Crabs

The large amount of invasive mitten crabs were intercepted at the customs port in Erlanger.

Photo by U.S. Customs and Border Patrol. 

(Erlanger, Ky.) – A large amount of invasive mitten crabs have been intercepted in northern Kentucky.

U.S. Customs and Border Protection agriculture specialists at the Port of Cincinnati say they have intercepted 51 shipments of invasive mitten crabs over the past four months.

In total, the shipments contained about 3,400 pounds or 3,700 crustaceans of invasive mitten crabs.

The shipments originated in China and Hong Kong and were destined for residences and businesses in multiple U.S. states. All were falsely manifested as tools and various clothing items.

The mitten crabs are a seasonal delicacy in Asia and retail for approximately $50 per crab in the U.S.

Their predation and competition with native species has earned them a place on the Invasive Species Specialist Group’s list of “100 of the World’s Worst Invasive Alien Species.”

Mitten crabs have been found in California waterways, the Chesapeake and Delaware Bays, and the Hudson River. During fall months they are imported from Asia through U.S. international express and mail facilities where CBP and FWS await to refuse entry because of their disastrous impact on native habitats. It is illegal to import mitten crabs and other injurious wildlife into the United States without a permit as specified in the Federal Lacey Act.

“As a unified border agency, CBP is committed to a fully integrated approach toward international security,” said Cincinnati CBP Supervisory Agriculture Specialist Barbara Hassan. “In this case, we worked closely with FWS to stop a serious threat to our economy and ecology.”

Since September, FWS inspectors have refused entry of more than 15,000 mitten crabs.

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