Big cats, big problems
They don’t respond to ‘Here, Kitty’
SOMEBODY once noted yet another difference between dogs and cats: If I shrunk to an inch tall, I could still scold my dog, and he’d still droop his head. My cat would eat me.
Just as there is no need to ever own a pit pull dog (“It never harmed a fly, until it killed my toddler”) there is no need to own a large cat. And we’re not talking about fat tabbies.
Common sense should also dictate that tigers, lions, cougars, et al., are not good companions for us twolegged types. Unfortunately, common sense isn’t always common.
Some people think they can own big cats like any other animal without consequence. Or, more likely, they think it’s cool to own the critters when they’re small and can be shown around town in a zipped-up jacket. But the things do grow up. And start eating many pounds of meat every day.
Even beyond the threat to pet owners, their children, and their pocketbooks, keeping a tiger in the backyard is harmful to the animal if you’re not really certain what you’re doing.
For these reasons and more, we’d like to call upon our congressional delegation to support the Big Cat Public Safety Act in both the House and the Senate. Here’s language from the bill: “This bill amends the Lacey Act Amendments of 1981 to prohibit any person from breeding or possessing prohibited wildlife species (i.e., any live species of lion, tiger, leopard, cheetah, jaguar, or cougar or any hybrid of such species).”
If passed, this bill would impose a maximum fine of $20,000 and a maximum prison sentence of five years on violators.
Thankfully, Arkansas has a law that bans the ownership of bears, lions and tigers. And before you think this isn’t a real problem (because who would own one of these dangerous animals?), let us share a tale from Caven Clark, National Park Service Liaison for the Buffalo National River.
Mr. Clark told us about a man who owned a tiger back in 2008. After a while, the man decided he couldn’t afford to feed it any more (go figure; they eat 10-25 pounds of meat every day), and decided to release it near Erbie Campground in the upper Buffalo River area. Can you imagine going for a nice camping trip in the Ozarks and running into a tiger?
Thankfully, the tiger was captured by officials, who found the man who released it. Nobody was hurt. But that story could have ended very differently. Hungry tigers and people don’t mix well.
The only place tigers belong in the Ozarks is at Turpentine Creek, where they have a trained staff to take care of the creatures.
Like we said earlier, certain large carnivores are already prohibited from being kept as pets in Arkansas, but bobcats and coyotes are still allowed to be kept, according to the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission. In fact, people can have up to six, plucked right out of the wild. We’d recommend this be changed, too. No coyote or bobcat is ever going to be a good pet. They’re called wildlife, emphasis on wild.
It’s hard to imagine a good argument for allowing people to keep big cats. Is there a big tiger lobby? If you’re looking for a good furry friend, call your local animal shelter. Everything they have will be legal and love you unconditionally.