Tiger spotted roaming in Berlin
Last seen on Thursday, big cat remains on loose
Wednesday, March 29, 2006
News staff writer
Lose a tiger in Cullman County recently?
If so, sheriff’s deputies would like to have a talk with you after residents in the Berlin community spotted a big cat roaming their neighborhood.
The description fits that of a young adult tiger, Patterson said, weighing about 200 to 250 pounds, about waist high – but wearing about a 3-inch-wide red collar.
"This leads us to believe it was someone’s pet," Cullman County Sheriff’s Lt. Phillip Patterson said.
Patterson said deputies would like to find the owner to determine more about the animal. It is legal to keep exotic pets in Alabama, he said.
Deputies and animal control officers have been on the lookout for a tiger since being called to a home on Cullman County Road 1641 last Thursday night, said Patterson.
Patterson said when he and another deputy arrived they interviewed four adults who live in homes on a cul-de-sac. They described the animal that had gone into a wooded area behind the homes by the time deputies had arrived, he said.
Interviews with other residents in the area that night turned up another man who had also seen it but hadn’t reported it, Patterson said. "He said he had seen it during daylight hours in a field near some cows, and he was kind of watching it to see if it went after one of the cows," he said.
Deputies and animal control officers spent all night looking for the animal and have since stepped up patrols in the area, Patterson said. No signs of it were found, and no one has reported seeing it since then, he said.
Not only are deputies and animal control officers concerned about the safety of residents and livestock, they also are concerned for the tiger, Patterson said. If it is a pet, it could have been de-clawed and its fangs removed, which might make it difficult to find food or defend itself, he said.
Sue Steffens, of Tigers for Tomorrow at Untamed Mountain, a rescue sanctuary near Attalla, said a pet big cat usually stays close to home unless it has been continually scared by someone, pushing it farther and farther away. If there is a cat roaming out there, it doesn’t matter whether it’s someone’s pet, Steffens said. It would still be dangerous to approach.
"The worst thing anyone can do if they see it is to turn around and run away. You never turn your back on a big cat because its instincts will kick in," she said.
If a child is nearby, pick him up and back away slowly, but the best thing to do is to scare it away or divert its attention by making a loud noise, such as banging a garbage can lid, Steffens said.
She said she tries to talk people out of owning big cats. "Animals are always wild by nature. Their instincts are not going to go away," she said.
For the cats,
Carole Baskin, CEO of Big Cat Rescue
an Educational Sanctuary home
to more than 100 big cats
12802 Easy Street Tampa, FL 33625
813.493.4564 fax 885.4457
Sign our petition here: