Parcels: it’s a jungle in there
RISKY goods people try to sneak into Tasmania through the mail system range from the exotic to the bizarre.
Starfish, coral, dung beetles and sharks’ teeth are among the illegal mail items detected in the past year.
Biosecurity officers charged with monitoring the mail have checked 276,000 parcels in the past 12 months, resulting in 520 detections.
Adam Reading, with the Biosecurity Operations Branch, said most of the banned items being mailed into the state were plant material from mainland gardens.
“We get plant clippings and potted plants with the soil and roots in plastic,” Mr Reading said.
Fresh fruit was also commonly sent down, ranging from everyday fruit such as commercially bought oranges to more exotic tropical fruits.
There is also the rare reptile that arrives travelling via express post.
Mr Reading said a giant panda snail that entered the state early last year looked like a bizarre sea creature when they X-rayed the box.
“It was out of its shell and splayed out in a takeaway container,” he said.
Officers have also picked up the occasional snake, with two exotic corn snakes travelling down in a plastic satchel bag.
“When we X-rayed the satchel the snakes were all coiled up and they looked like a toy . . . but there were two snakes.”
He said people had also tried to send live exotic fish, contained in plastic bags filled with water.
Mr Reading said the increasing use of internet shopping was a problem because people tried to buy live plants and seeds over the internet that had not gone through the appropriate checks.
The Mornington Mail Centre, which sorts mail for the state, handles about a tonne of arrivals every day.
Detections of illegal goods are made using X-ray machines, physical examinations and detector dogs.