NJ Bill To Protect Tigers From Black Market Body Parts Sales Advances

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TRENTON – A bill sponsored by state Sen. Raymond J. Lesniak which would create a registration and reporting system for privately-owned tigers within the State of New Jersey in order to discourage the worldwide black market for tiger body parts was unanimously approved by the Senate Economic Growth Committee.

“Worldwide, the demand for tiger body parts has essentially helped to push these majestic animals to the brink of extinction,” said Lesniak (D-Union.) “While we can condemn the actions being perpetuated in remote parts of the world, where tigers are farmed and hunted specifically to fuel this black market, New Jersey should make sure that we’ve done our small part to help end the barbaric and senseless slaughter of tigers in the wild. This bill sends a statement that New Jersey stands up for the humane and ethical treatment of tigers here at home and around the world.”

The bill, S-3061, would require the State Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) to administer a system in which private individuals who own tigers would register certain information with the State. Under the bill, tiger owners would be required to provide their name, address and telephone number, the address and exact location where the tiger is kept, the birth date, weight and sex of the tiger, a description of any distinguishing marks and a digital color photograph of the tiger, a hair sample sufficient to meet any future need for DNA analysis of the tiger. Upon review and approval of an application, the Department would be required to issue a certificate of registration for the tiger, complete with a unique identification number, and the tiger’s owner would be required to have a subcutaneous microchip implanted in the tigers’ neck with the ID number as well as other identifying information.

The bill also stipulates that within five days of a tiger’s death, the tiger’s owner would be required to submit the tiger’s remains to a qualified disposal agent to remove the ID chip and dispose of the remains properly, and the owner would be required to submit a sworn affidavit to DEP detailing the time and cause of death, and the ID number provided by the Department.

“The law already requires tiger owners to register with DEP to protect the animals and the public at large,” said Senator Lesniak. “The additions to the law under this bill are intended to ensure that not only are the animals and the public safeguarded, but that they aren’t exploited for a quick buck on the black market.”

Lesniak noted that the black market for tiger body parts, among other factors, has resulted in the animals being hunted to near-extinction worldwide. Over the last century, the world’s tiger population has fallen from about 100,000 to just 3,200 in the wild according to the World Wildlife Fund. Tigers are hunted, bought and sold not only for their teeth, skins and claws, but also for their body parts, which are used in many traditional Asian medicines.

Lesniak added that the body parts of a single tiger can be sold for a sum of $10,000 or more on the black market. He also noted that, at the time of the recent tragedy in Ohio, in which animals escaped from a private nature preserve, criminals were seeking to steal lion carcasses in order to profit from the illegal trade of their body parts.

“Although New Jersey only has a few dozen tigers in captivity, we have had problems with private tiger owners in the past, and this legislation would make New Jersey a worldwide leader in condemning the black market trade of tigers,” said Lesniak. “By requiring the DEP to maintain biological information on privately-owned tigers, we are doing our part to halt the black market which is running these animals into extinction. Equally important, we’re taking a stand against a system which perpetuates cruel and inhumane treatment of an animal which is on the verge of disappearing from this earth.”

The bill now heads to the Senate Budget and Appropriations Committee, before going to the full Senate for review.

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