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In this lesson, students will develop their understanding of animal behaviors and the interaction of innate abilities and learned behaviors. The Beagle Brigade is a team of beagles and their human handlers who inspect luggage at U.S. airports searching for agricultural products. They are part of the United States Department of Agriculture's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (USDA-APHIS). The USDA is charged with making sure that meat, animal byproducts, fruit, and vegetables that can carry diseases and pests harmful to U.S. agriculture are kept out of the country. Often these products are brought into the country by travelers. The APHIS works in conjunction with the U.S. Customs Service, Public Health Service, and Immigration and Naturalization Service at entry points to the U.S., including land borders, ports, and airports to make sure that this doesn't happen. The Beagle Brigade contributes to this effort by working in the baggage-claim areas at international airports. Dogs in the Beagle Brigade wear green jackets. One reason why beagles were chosen for this work is that they are small and easy to care for. They also are not as intimidating to people who are uncomfortable around dogs--such as larger dogs like German Shepherds. This is important in busy international airports where there are large numbers of people at all times.
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