Lawmakers look to give tigers an added measure of protection

TRENTON – You may not think of the Garden State as tiger country and on the whole, it’s not, by a long shot.

But there’s enough interest in tiger body parts on the black market to prompt Sen. Ray Lesniak, (D-20), Elizabeth, to pounce on a set of more stringent tracking regulations for tiger owners to follow and tough penalties for those who fail to comply.

The bill (S3061) passed the upper house unanimously and is ready for action in the Assembly (A4392).

Lesniak says it’s another example of New Jersey leading the way in “social justice causes.”

The senator, working with Republican support, is attempting to protect tigers living in captivity in New Jersey from ending up as just so many body parts to satisfy various cultures around the world. A dead tiger can bring up to $10,000, he said.

The Senate Majority office says there are 23 tigers in captivity in New Jersey.

Lesniak’s bill would require a microchip be implanted in the big cats and state environmental officials would be granted access to check on their welfare. When the cat dies, its remains and microchip must be brought to the DEP for verification.

The bill also provides for civil and criminal penalties for violations, which would be subject to penalties under “The Endangered and Nongame Species Conservation Act.”

In other action, the Senate gave final and unanimous approval to Caylee’s law, which makes it a felony to fail to report the disappearance of a child within 24 hours or for failing to report a child’s death.

The measure is in response to the sensational Florida case, where Casey Anthony failed to report her daughter Caylee missing for 31 days. The 2-year-old was never located and her mother was later charged with murder, though she was ultimately found not guilty.

The bill that received final and unanimous approval in both houses today (S3010/A4297) makes failure to report a child 13 or younger missing or dead a fourth-degree crime, punishable by up to 18 months in prison and a fine of $10,000.

“The first few hours are critical in finding a missing person,” said Sen. Linda Greenstein, (D-14), Plainsboro, a bill co-sponsor. “Our current laws allow for this type of inexcusable behavior and we must change them to correct this obvious deficiency.”

The legislation now heads to the governor’s desk.


Lawmakers look to give tigers an added measure of protection