One of the main reasons that people travel is to experience new scenery. Being surrounded by completely new vegetation and animals can be an inspiring experience. As a traveler, however, it is important to remember that the ecology of each habitat and region on the planet has taken millennia to create. In fact, an ecosystem can be completely thrown off by the introduction of just one seed from a foreign plant.
The same is true for animals. If only a few animals are introduced to a new region, they might overrun the area and completely throw off the ecosystem. Because of these reasons, many governments are very specific about what kinds of plants and animals can be imported into or exported from their country.
Before you travel, it is important to know about the fish and wildlife restrictions that you may experience during your trip. Fish and wildlife restrictions cover plants, animals, and even some foods. Any foods that could be carrying live organisms may be seized and destroyed by customs.
Fresh fruits and vegetables may not be allowed to cross borders because their seeds could be viable for germination. If you do want to bring some culinary treats home with you, consider dried spices or grains; anything that has been bottled such as wine, sauces, or preserves; or treats such as chocolates and candies. These should pass through customs with no trouble.
In addition to fresh fruits and vegetables, live plants are also banned under many customs policies. Because of the incredible reproduction abilities of plants, a single seedling can pose a major threat to an ecological system. The plant could overrun other plants that are important to a system. Furthermore, if the plant carried a virus, it could wipe out crops or areas of wildlife throughout a country. Not only could this create environmental problems, but it might also threaten important food supplies.
If you are considering transporting an animal during your international trip, be sure that you are aware of the fish and wildlife restrictions on animals. Every country has a different set of rules about animals. Some animals are not permitted to pass through customs at all. Others are held by customs officials for a quarantine period before they are released to the owner. If you want to bring your pet along on your vacation, be sure to research the fish and wildlife customs specifications for every country that you will visit.
For more information on US fish and wildlife customs, visit www.customs.ustreas.gov.