News Release – NR07-02 – February 13, 2007

Posted on Feb 13, 2007 in 2007 News Releases, News Releases

HONOLULU – A stowaway squirrel caused an American Airlines flight to make an unscheduled stop in Hawaii early Friday morning (2/9).  The flight originating from Narita Airport in Japan was en route to Dallas, Texas, when the cockpit crew heard a squirrel in the ceiling panel and requested to divert to Honolulu. 

Officials from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Wildlife Services (USDA-WS) and the Hawaii Department of Agriculture (HDOA) were called about 1 a.m. Friday morning and met the plane when it arrived at the gate at about 2:20 a.m.  Passengers were allowed to deplane through one door with inspectors monitoring the exit to prevent the escape of the animal.  

An initial visual inspection of the plane and the overhead section did not detect the animal.  USDA-WS set traps in the aircraft which captured the squirrel later in the day.  The squirrel was turned over HDOA inspectors and has been identified as an Eastern Gray Squirrel (Sciurus carolinensis).  Results of rabies tests are pending. 

Eastern grey squirrels are native to the eastern coast of North America, but have been introduced along the West Coast of North America, South Africa, England and Italy.  It is not known where or when the squirrel boarded the aircraft.

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