Department of Game and Fish in New Mexico
Public Contact, Information Center: 888-248-6866
Media contact, Ryan Darr: 505-476-8027
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE SEPT. 10th, 2022:
NMDGF conservation officers continue to search for missing tigers
ALBUQUERQUE — Officials with the New Mexico Department of Game and Fish Conservation are uncovering all manner of criminal activity while investigating wildlife crimes. On August 12, 2022, conservation officials obtained search warrants for two homes and, with the assistance of federal, state and local law enforcement, served both search warrants in the South Albuquerque Valley. NMDGF investigators likely had reason to believe that a tiger was being illegally kept as a pet in one of the dormitories. The search subsequently led to the seizure of an illegally owned, 3-foot alligator along with illegal drugs, large amounts of cash and numerous illegal firearms; Details are available from the Albuquerque Police Department. However, the tiger was not found. The alligator was transported to an animal shelter for veterinary care.
Exotic animals held illegally in captivity are often in very poor condition when conservation officials discover them due to lack of care. Department investigators spend a lot of time on cases like this. The importation and possession of almost any wild animal or exotic species is illegal in New Mexico without a permit. Tigers and alligators are listed as Group IV prohibited species, meaning only a licensed zoo may own them. Members of the general public are not allowed to keep these species for any reason. Additionally, owning large carnivores such as tigers or alligators poses a clear risk to the public. For applicable regulations, visit our website at: https://www.wildlife.state.nm.us/enforcement/special-use-permits/ under “Import Permits” – “Information”.
Department investigators suspect the tiger remains privately owned in New Mexico or a nearby state. The tiger is believed to be less than 1 year old and currently probably weighs 30 to 60 pounds. Tigers can weigh up to 600 pounds depending on the subspecies. The department is asking for the public’s help in finding this tiger. Please call Operation Game Thief at 800-432-4263 if you have information about the whereabouts of this tiger or if you have information about other wildlife or exotic animals kept illegally by private individuals. You can also report information online at https://www.wildlife.state.nm.us/enforcement/operation-game-thief-overview/. You can report information anonymously and are eligible for a cash award if the information provided leads to a criminal charge in court.