Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Alaska Takes Hawaii's Leftovers

A few weeks ago the ISW reported that a whole planeload of Christmas trees sent to Hawaii were shipped back to Oregon after pest inspectors found wasps in the shipping containers. Well, it turns out the trees took a detour on their way home, and ended up in Alaska, where they were sold to the unsuspecting public by Northern Air Cargo (NAC). Alaska doesn't inspect domestic imports, which was great news for NAC, and not such great news for Alaska. Sounds like Alaska's officials are not too happy at the hole they've uncovered in their inspection system, so perhaps this will drive the state to implement more stringent import regulations.

Alaskans who bought Christmas trees from NAC are being asked to take a close look at their purchase, in case they got some "bonus beasties" along with their Christmas cheer. Read the full story over at KTUU news.

What is really interesting is that nothing illegal has happened here: it was a domestic import, and the shipment was certified by the Oregon Department of Agriculture. Yet, there is still obviously a danger of a pest introduction occurring, not a good idea even for species that have already been recorded in Alaska. Does the Oregon DAR intentionally ignore the presence of certain insects in shipments, or did the inspection simply fail?

(Bonus points to John Roberts for convincing me not to go with my first choice for post title.)

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