Sep 14, 2011
In November 2010, more than 40,000 WSPA supporters took action for Tony the Truck Stop Tiger by asking the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries to not renew the state permit that allowed Tony to be housed in unacceptable and inhumane conditions.
The good news is that Tony will likely be free of his roadside cage and placed in a sanctuary very soon. The bad news is that Tony is not the only captive tiger in the U.S. who needs our help.
According to a 2008 report, there are an estimated 5,000 additional captive tigers in the U.S. used in roadside attractions and zoos, bred for profit and owned as exotic “pets” – that’s more tigers than are even left in the wild, worldwide!
Fortunately, on Aug. 22, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) took an impressive step toward improving federal protections of captive tigers by publishing a proposed rule to amend the Endangered Species Act (ESA). The proposed action would close loopholes that currently hinder federal oversight and enforcement of captive tigers in the U.S.
The way the ESA is currently written, most captive tigers are classified as “generic” (or cross-bred from different subspecies), making them exempt from federal regulations and denied protections other endangered species are afforded.
For instance, owners of “generic” tigers are not required to report annually to FWS about activities conducted with the tigers or provide a year-end inventory. In other words, FWS has no way to track these animals or monitor their living conditions.
Furthermore, with populations of wild tigers decreasing around the world, there is serious concern that U.S. captive tigers could be killed for their parts to meet the international demand for tiger parts.
If finalized, the new proposed rule would:
• Eliminate the exemption for “generic” tigers, requiring them to be registered and reported under the ESA’s Captive-bred Wildlife regulations
• Make certain activities illegal unless owners obtain permits or other federal authorization, giving enforcement officials the ability to prosecute perpetrators
• Prevent captive tigers from becoming victims of the illegal trade of wildlife parts
Image © Kishore Bhargava/Flickr CC 3.0