The best way to answer the question is to start with a review of what happens at an officially designated port of entry. Typically, a hunter returning with a trophy simply declares the animal upon passing through Customs, at which point officers from USF&WS and the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) are summoned to inspect the trophy and its export documentation and either release it to the hunter or forward it to a taxidermist approved to receive restricted animal by-products. The problem is, at a non-designated port of entry there are no USF&WS agents to summon, which means Customs cannot release the trophy.
To figure out how to deal with this problem, we spoke with USF&WS's Mike Carpenter, who said the problem is indeed an important one that hunters need to address ahead of time. All one has to do, he said, is call either the USF&WS office at the nearest designated port or the nearest regional office of USF&WS and make arrangements for an inspector to meet you at the airport when you arrive at Customs. A directory of offices is available on the USF&WS web site (www.fws.gov), or through the headquarters office in Virginia (703-358-1949). You must give them at least 72 hours notice, Carpenter said. Furthermore, you may not be able to get an inspector to meet you on weekends or after hours. Make your flight plans accordingly, or your trophy may get stuck in Customs. When you call USF&WS to arrange for an inspector, you need to request an application........(continued)