Today, the Senate passed the Big Cat Public Safety Act, which now goes to the President to sign, having been passed by the House earlier this year. This legislation will help prevent captive tigers from ending up in the illegal trade in tiger parts and products, which is a primary threat to the species in the wild. The bill will also help ensure the welfare of captive big cats, as well as public safety, by requiring facilities to obtain a federal permit for big cat ownership. Through these actions, information will be provided on who owns them, when they're sold or traded and what happens to their parts when they die.
In response, World Wildlife Fund (WWF) issued the following statement from Leigh Henry, director, wildlife policy:
“With the passage of the Big Cat Public Safety Act, Congress has sent a global message that the US stands firmly against wildlife crime and on the side of tiger conservation. Once signed into law, this legislation will provide stringent protections and oversight for captive tigers and other big cats, as well as the communities in which they are being held.
“The US is home to thousands of captive tigers and there is little accounting for these animals, meaning they could easily slip off the radar and into black markets due to a lack of information available. By requiring a federal permit for big cat ownership, we’ll have better understanding of the state of captive tigers and what happens to their valuable parts when they die.
“As this Year of the Tiger comes to a close, there is no better time for the US government to act on this longstanding conservation issue. We hope that other governments, particularly those with tiger farms within their borders, will soon follow America's lead.”