By some estimates, a couple of thousand tigers live in Texas, many in backyards and most not registered with the state, which is believed to be the second-largest tiger population in the world behind India.
Texas allows ownership of exotic pets and requires owners to register their animals with the state, but as of February only 50 tigers were recorded, said Chris Van Deusen, spokesman for the Texas Department of State Health Services.
Animal rights advocates say many tigers go unregistered because county enforcement of the registration rules is often lax.
Most Texas counties have banned tiger ownership, but the state doesn’t track which counties allow tigers and which don’t, making it difficult, if not impossible to track unregistered tigers in the state, said Skip Trimble, advisory director of the Texas Humane Legislation Network.
“The tragedy here is that we do have laws, but the laws are not effective in any reasonable manner,” Trimble said. “It’s really very, very sickening to us, when we worked as hard as we did to get the (tiger registration) law passed, now after 15 years to know … it’s just not happening.”