How can a tiger be generic?
Although many tigers may appear to be similar, the underlying genetic makeup of the animals—assuming that the animals are a pure breed from one of the recognized subspecies—is possibly quite different. Mix the genetic pools and you end up with a tiger that is considered generic because it does not fit neatly into a defined category of an endangered subspecies. For a better read on this issue there are a lot fo websites that discuss the problem. I choose to get my information from the people at the Wild Animal Sanctuary in Keenesburg, Colorado. Check out their site on the issue here.
Where this gets us into trouble is that there are thousands, if not tens of thousands, of tigers in private hands in the U.S. and around the world that have undefined genetic makeups. Therefore, in the eyes of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service—the government agency charged with the modicum of regulation we have in the U.S. concerning exotic animals at the federal level—these tigers are generic and do not fall under the protections of the Endangered Species Act.
As these “generic” tigers do not fall under the protections of the Endangered Species Act it becomes routine for the USFWS to deny the permit to import such an animal into the U.S. This is true even if the animal is being rescued from deplorable conditions overseas.
In essence, the USFWS through a fiat decision that does not have a basis in established or written law has decided that these animals should suffer in veritable “hells on Earth.” The current standard operating procedure of denying permits for importation could be reversed at any moment, but these bureaucracies tend to maintain the status quo until legislation prods them otherwise.
The Wild Animal Sanctuary has put together a nice page directing those so inclined to take action with both the USFWS and elected representatives. Check it out here.
I have contacted both U.S. Senators and the Congressperson from my congressional district. I look forward to receiving a form letter in response, but I will keep sending letters and emails until the issue gets some traction.
These animals are not the “trash” of the tiger heap as the USFWS deems them to be. Regardless of their genetic makeup these are majestic animals who do not deserve to live in squalid conditions because a bureaucrat has decided to exercise what limited authority that they possess.