On April 21st the House of Representatives rejected a bill that focused on clarifying the state wildlife authorities’ power to stop Louisiana residents from importing tigers and other exotic cats.
After a contentious debate resulting in a 35-41 vote, the House rejected HB 1084 proposed by Representative Jerome Zeringue, as several lawmakers were concerned it would affect an ongoing legal dispute involving Tony, a Siberian-Bengal tiger, living at an interstate truck stop in Grosse Tete, known as the Tiger Truck Stop.
Zeringue stated the proposed bill would simply clarify state law regarding the power Louisiana Wildlife and Fisheries Commission already has under the state constitution. Further, the bill would not affect individuals in the state who currently possess a tiger or other exotic cats nor would it impact the continuing litigation over Tony.
Louisiana state law requires the Wildlife and Fisheries Commission to implement rules to “control the importation and possession of exotic big cats.” The proposed bill would allow the Commission to prohibit private residents from importing exotic cats if the owners did not comply with the state regulations.
Zeringue explained that HB 1084 would not impact any existing permit holders of exotic cats and would not change the exemptions for university mascots and zoos.
For several years, animal advocates have voiced concerns and questioned the tiger’s treatment and living conditions at the truck stop and called for the state legislature to remove the tiger from the truck stop. Tony continues to reside at the truck stop, pending the outcome of the legal dispute.