You have permission to edit this article.

Package containing unknown seeds reported in Cleburne County

Authorities on Wednesday were investigating a report of a mysterious package believed to contain unknown seeds in Cleburne County.

Joseph Freeman, Cleburne County’s chief deputy in the sheriff's office, said a woman reported Wednesday afternoon she had received a package that had been labeled as jewelry. Freeman said he believed the woman opened the package and saw seeds inside. He did not know what part of the county the seeds were found in.

Freeman said shortly after 4 p.m. deputies were en route to speak to the woman about the incident.

Cleburne County extension coordinator Debby Mathews said there have been reports across the United States of mysterious packages containing seeds. The United States Department of Agriculture announced Tuesday the packages appear to be from China.

Freeman said this was the first reported package in Cleburne County.

“It’s possible the seeds don’t pose a threat, but they’re unsolicited and sometimes they’re marked as jewelry,” Mathews said.

According to Mathews, the seeds could be harmless or they could contain a pathogen harmful to the environment. Or, according to the USDA, they might be just part of a sales scam. Mathews urged anyone who receives a similar package to avoid opening or discarding the package and avoid planting or ingesting the seeds.

Freeman encouraged anyone who receives another unsolicited package to report it to the Alabama Department of Agriculture and Industry.

“They’re handling it and testing to find out what kind of seeds they are,” Freeman said.