Conserving the Nature of America
Press Release
Fish and Wildlife Service Proposes to Repeal Exemption of Generic Tigers from Registration under the Captive-Bred Wildlife Program

September 21, 2011


Division of Public Affairs
External Affairs
Telephone: 703-358-2220

The U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) announced a proposed rule that would require owners or breeders of “generic” tigers (e. g., tigers that cannot be identified as members of the Bengal, Sumatran, Siberian, or Indochinese tiger subspecies) to register with the Captive-bred Wildlife Registration Program, thereby revoking an exemption that had been in place.

The original 30-day public comment period for this proposed rule would have closed on September 21, 2011. The Service has received a considerable amount of comments and is announcing an extension of the public comment period by 30 days to allow all interested parties an opportunity to comment on the proposed rule. The new comment period will close on October 21, 2011.

The proposed rule would allow the Service to reinforce the value of conservation breeding of individual tiger subspecies and discourage the breeding of tigers of unknown or mixed lineage. Wild tigers are some of the rarest and most hunted animals on earth, killed illegally by the hundreds every year to meet the demand for tiger parts in traditional Asian medicine. The Service has worked within the international arena to implement measures that ensure the breeding of tigers in captivity supports conservation goals and that tigers are not bred for trade in parts or products. This proposal would ensure that management of captive-bred tigers within U. S. borders meets those high standards.

If finalized, this change in the regulations would require individuals or breeding operations with “generic” tigers to receive specific authorization under the Endangered Species Act (ESA) implementing regulations at 50 C. F.R. section 17.22 to carry out activities with these tigers that would otherwise be prohibited. Permits or authorization are required to sell listed species across state lines, to export them, or to harm or kill them. However, the ESA does not regulate ownership of listed species, sales of these species within a state, or the non-commercial movement of listed species across state lines. The proposed change would not stop individuals from owning or breeding tigers, as long as they do not sell them across state lines or harm them.

The tiger is protected as endangered under the ESA and in Appendix I of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES). The wild tiger, once abundant throughout Asia, now lives in small fragmented groups. Today’s population is thought to be 3,000-5,000 animals, and occupies only about 7 percent of its original range. Tigers readily breed in captivity, and the number of tigers in captivity exceeds the numbers found in the wild in Asia. As many as 5,000 tigers are in captivity in the United States, although the exact size of the population is unknown.

Written comments and information concerning this proposal can be submitted by one of the following methods:

Federal eRulemaking Portal: Follow the instructions for submitting comments to Docket No. [FWS-R9-IA-2011-0027]; or U. S. mail or hand-delivery: Public Comments Processing, Attn: [FWS-R9-IA-2011-0027]; Division of Policy and Directives Management; U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service; 4401 N. Fairfax Drive, MS 2042–PDM; Arlington, VA 22203.

Comments must be received within 30 days, on or before October 21, 2011. The Service will post all comments on This generally means the agency will post any personal information provided through the process. The Service is not able to accept email or faxes.

The ESA provides a critical safety net for native fish, wildlife and plants and to date has prevented the extinction of hundreds of imperiled species across the nation, and foreign species in trade as well as promoted the recovery of many others. The Service is actively engaged with conservation partners and the public in the search for improved and innovative ways to conserve and recover imperiled species. To learn more about the Service’s implementation of the ESA, go to

To learn more about the Service’s International Affairs program, visit:

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