ALBUQUERQUE – New Mexico Department of Game and Fish conservation officers discover all manner of criminal activity while investigating wildlife crimes. On Aug. 12, 2022, conservation officers obtained search warrants for two residences and, with assistance from federal, state and local law enforcement, served both warrants in Albuquerque’s south valley. NMDGF investigators had probable cause to believe a tiger was illegally being held as a pet at one of the residences. The search subsequently resulted in the seizure of an illegally possessed, 3-foot alligator along with illicit drugs, large quantities of cash and numerous, illegal firearms; details are available from Albuquerque Police Department. The tiger was not located however. The alligator was transported to a wildlife facility for veterinary care.
Exotic animals illegally held in captivity are often in very poor condition when conservation officers discover them due to a lack of proper care. Department investigators spend significant time on cases like this one. The importation and possession of nearly all wildlife or exotic species is illegal in New Mexico without a proper permit. Tigers and alligators are listed as a Group IV prohibited species, which means only a permitted zoo is allowed to possess them. Members of the general public are not allowed to keep these species for any reason. Further, possession of large carnivores, such as a tiger or alligator, presents a clear danger to the public. Applicable regulations can be found on our website at: https://www.wildlife.state.nm.us/enforcement/special-use-permits/ under “Importation Permits”-“Information.”
Department investigators suspect that the tiger remains in private hands in New Mexico or a nearby state. The tiger is believed to be less than 1 year old and likely weighs 30-60 pounds at present. Tigers can grow up to 600 pounds depending on the sub-species. The department is requesting the public’s help to locate this tiger. Please call Operation Game Thief at 800-432-4263 if you have any information on the location of this tiger, or if you have information about other wildlife or exotic animals being illegally held by private individuals. You may 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 reward if the information provided leads to charges being filed in court.