Breathless rumors have been going around the fly fishing message boards (probably by the same guy posting on all of them) about a recent ban by the Chilean department of agriculture on folk's bringing flies made from feathers into the country.
Teh Wind Knot has not been able to verify this officially, but has heard it from sources more reliable than FF message boards (if there is such a thing) and, given previous experiences with Chilean customs, has to believe it is true.
The furor makes this sound worse than Pinochet's death squads or Allende's Cuban "advisors"--an evil plot by the government to force anglers traveling to flail the waters to support the massive local fly shop industry. I doubt it.
The Chileans may be overreacting to the bird flu scare, especially given that it is unlikely that the virus would be very happy in dead chickens instead of live ones. But Chile has a history of overreacting to such threats and also some good reason.
Chile is essentially an island. And before you accuse TWK of not being able to read a map, you have to remember that it is bordered on two sides by the Pacific. In the north, it is cut off by the driest desert in the world and has Los Andes protecting the Eastern flank. Because of this isolation, it has more in common with New Zealand than the U.S. and can lay claim to being home to more unique species than any other place in the world. This isolation allowed Chile to survive the phylloxera epidemic that destroyed the French wine industry in the 1800s (and did the same to its Northern neighbor, Peru). So, they have some reason to be overprotective at times.
If you are planning to go to Chile, don't freak and don't try to smuggle your favorite patterns into the country. Just leave them at home. You can buy flies there (mostly made in China like yours were) at reasonable prices. If you are fishing with a guide or outfitter, they will want to be helpful, not gouge you. That is not good for business. Besides, you probably don't have the magic bug in your box anyway.
It is a vacation. Chill. And enjoy the fishing. It is awesome.