Parcels: it’s a jun­gle in there

Sunday Tasmanian - - News - ANNE MATHER

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.

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