The award-winning documentary film, “The Conservation Game,” for which our work served as the subjects, shows how people were able to buy tigers and other big cats, as well as other exotic animals, at auction. It also shows how some “conservative” celebrities – characters seen regularly on television and therefore trustworthy to tell us about endangered species – allegedly misrepresented where they got their animal “ambassadors” or where these creatures end up when. , after a few months, they are too big and too dangerous to be exploited any further.
The film also follows the progress of the Big Cat Public Safety Act (HR 263; S. 1210) which has bipartisan support in both houses of Congress, with 198 bipartisan cosponsors in the House and the introduction to the Senate by Sens. Richard Blumenthal (D -Connecticut.), Susan collinsSusan Margaret CollinsHillicon Valley: GP issues health disinformation notice | Biden Administration Steps Up Efforts to Respond to Ransomware Attacks | Cyber bills gain urgency after wave of attacks GOP angry at Schumer’s tough strategy Cybersecurity bills gain urgency after wave of attacks (R-Maine), Tom carperThomas (Tom) Richard Carper The world of lobbying Clean hydrogen can fuel industrial decarbonization and environmental justice Progressive groups step up pressure on Feinstein MORE (D-Del.) And Richard burrRichard Mauze BurrSchumer and Tim Scott lead as Senate fundraising pace picks up Murkowski: Trump ‘threatened to do a lot’ to those who stand up to him The Hill 12:30 report – Brought to you by Facebook – Biden helps to negotiate a bipartite agreement on PLUS infrastructure (RN.C.). The bill prohibits exhibitors from using tigers as “selfie” props and gradually eliminates the private and unlicensed ownership of big cats as pets.
Eliminating the exploitation of baby tigers for lucrative public contact purposes, such as in private petting zoos, will remove the financial incentive for rampant big cat breeding in the style of puppy mills which, when they grow too big to be stroked, are thrown out, used for more breeding, possibly destroyed, or may end up in the illegal trade in their body parts.
While stopping the abuse of these magnificent animals is a goal of the bill, the safety of the public and, in particular, first responders, is just as important. The bill has the support of the National Sheriffs Association, the Fraternal Order of the Police, and many other first responder organizations and individuals across the country. First responders shouldn’t have to deal with predators over 300 pounds on the loose, as recently happened in Texas.
Sheriff Matt Lutz, whose officers in Zanesville, Ohio, handled the 2011 release of 56 dangerous animals – shooting and killing 48 of them – puts it this way: “Our deputies are undergoing immense training, a lot of training. different ways of handling emergencies. But handling exotic animals is not part of our training, and neither should it be. ”
Why would a legislator refuse to support such a sensible bill? The simple answer can be misinformation. Some opponents have tried to scare owners of roadside zoos, for example, by telling them that they will be subject to inspections by the Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) in addition to inspections by the United States Department of Agriculture ( USDA). It is completely absurd. The bill does not change the role of the USDA in any way, except to reduce its burden by having fewer tigers to inspect. And the FWS wouldn’t do any inspections; he would visit a licensed facility only if there were reports that the facility was breaking the law by offering public contact with the animals.
Every now and then we hear something from opponents of the “state rights” or “property rights” bill. We believe the best response to these claims comes from a first responder with direct experience with big cats, the president of the Texas Animal Control Association. He wrote: “It is not a question of property rights. No one has the right to endanger the safety of their neighbors and first responders by keeping predators as pets, which is a selfish contempt for those unlucky enough to live and work nearby. It is not a question of state rights. Law enforcement officials across the country are calling for this bill because states cannot do it alone and need a common tool to best solve this massive problem. This is a non-partisan public safety issue.
Congress is expected to pass the Big Cat Public Safety Act this session. In the words of Dan Ashe, CEO of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums: “Right now that would be great! “
Carole Baskin is the founder and CEO of Big Cat Rescue, one of the largest sanctuaries dedicated exclusively to big cats and accredited by the World Federation of Animal Sanctuaries. She is a leading force behind the Federal Big Cat Public Safety Act.
Carney Anne Nasser is the second full-time professor of wildlife law in the world. Over the past four years, Nasser has worked with acclaimed director Michael Webber and his crew on the award-winning documentary “The Conservation Game”.