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Beagle finds plants that definitely weren’t tulips in family’s baggage at BWI airport, officials say

Gatsby, a specially trained dog, sniffed out prohibited plants in a Virginia family’s bags.

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Call him The Great Gatsby.

A cute 5-and-a-half-year-old beagle named Gatsby that works for the U.S. Customs and Border Protection agency recently found plants that are prohibited in a family’s baggage at Baltimore-Washington International Marshall Airport, authorities said.

On Jan. 7, Gatsby was just doing his usual “roving inspections” when he came upon the suspicious bags. After a search, officials said they found 21 propagative plants and bags of bulbs that are prohibited in the U.S. in the luggage of a family from Frederick County, Va. They declined to identify the plants.

The family was coming from Iceland and had declared they only had tulip bulbs, officials said. They paid a $300 fine and were released.

Adam Rottman, port director for CBP’s Area Port of Baltimore, said in a statement finding that many plants and bulbs in one baggage was “unusual.” He also said the “potential threat these items pose to our nation’s agricultural resources underscores the importance of travelers knowing what they can and cannot bring to the United States.”

Officials joked in the statement of Gatsby’s find, saying, “it may be more of a vest than a cape on their backs, but The Great Gatsby proves once again that U.S. Customs and Border Protection’s Beagle Brigade are superheros.”

Gatsby has been on the job for five years and is one of several dogs that’s highly trained by agriculture specialists to look for illegal materials in luggage.

Agriculture experts said they also found two snails and a worm on the plants the family had with them. The creatures were submitted to the U.S. Agriculture Department so they can be identified. Officials took the plants and bulbs destroyed them.

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Customs and border agency officials said airline passengers must have “phytosanitary certificates from the original country verifying that the plants meet United States entry requirements.”

The reason that’s important, authorities said, is because propagative plants can be invasive to an ecosystem and could harm crops or plants.