U.S. To Regulate 'Backyard Tigers'

Rising numbers of imprisoned tigers in the United States are putting citizens at risk and could be fueling illegal trade in animal parts, which threatens their endurance in the wild, conservationists have warned.

"Tigers Among US," published by the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) and TRAFFIC, the wildlife trade monitoring network estimates that there are more than 5,000 tigers in imprisonment in the U.S. compared with around 3,200 that remain wild across Asia.

While some tigers are housed in zoos, many more are secretly owned, often free to roam backyards, urban apartments and are normally kept in "deplorable conditions," the report says.

Leigh Henry, WWF senior policy officer for Species Conservation told: "We've seen photos and there's a video on our website viewing tigers walking around muddy wet cages."

But its the size of the enclosures that is most stressful, Henry says, "when you know tigers are supposed to be ranging over hundreds and hundreds of acres."

Current U.S. regulation on tiger ownership is "a patchwork of central laws" full of "exceptions, exemptions and loopholes," the report says.

A majority of U.S. states (28) don't allow citizens to keep tigers as pets, while 17 have laws which control their ownership.

But in some states there are no regulations at all, making it easier to own a tiger than to accept a dog, with sometimes tragic consequences.

The U.S. is one of the world leaders in the endorsement of tiger conservation but the U.S. also has a responsibility to manage tigers in its own backyard, Henry says.

World leaders will gather in St Petersburg, Russia at the end of November for a Global Tiger Summit to converse proposals which will further protect breeding populations, habitats and inhibit poaching and international trade.

Their long term goal is to double the worldwide tiger population in the wild by the time the Chinese rejoice the Year of the Tiger again in 2022. Bookmark and Share