Seriously biosecurity risks mite be nesting in your luggage

Returning Australians are being reminded of the need to follow our strict biosecurity laws, after an Australian resident returning from the United States had three robin nests seized.

Biosecurity officials at Brisbane Airport recently uncovered these high risk items from a passenger who had declared only one nest on her Incoming Passenger Card.

Officers found two more nests packed under items in a steam cooker, with one containing a red egg. The nests were heavily infested with mites and have been securely destroyed to manage the biosecurity risk.

Head of Biosecurity Operations, Nico Padovan, said that failing to comply with our biosecurity laws could put all that we value in Australia at risk.

“Our biosecurity system is here to protect us from pests and diseases that could damage our human, plant and animal health,” Mr Padovan said.

“Everyone has a role to play—we need people to do the right thing and not bring or send things to Australia that could result in pests or diseases getting here.

“Travellers carrying foods, plant material or animal products in their luggage must declare them on their incoming passenger card.

“If you are unsure of an item, declare it, or don’t bring it at all.

“For those who intentionally try to thwart our systems, beware—there are serious consequences for offenders.

“Bird nests are high biosecurity risk items as they can carry exotic diseases, such as Newcastle Disease and Avian Influenza.

“These robin nests contained mites, as well as horse and goat hair. Animal hair can carry spores of diseases that affect people, like anthrax, as well as parasites and animal diseases that could have a disastrous impact on Australia’s animals and the communities that depend on them.

“It’s safer to do the right thing and declare these items so our officers can make the right call.”

Be biosecurity aware: visit the Department of Agriculture and Water Resources website for more information on what can’t be brought or mailed to Australia.

For information about what can and can’t be sent to Australia go to

Last reviewed: 4 November 2019
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