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January 28, 1999

Cooperative efforts between the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection's Division of Fish, Game and Wildlife, the FBI, and State and local authorities to capture an escaped 431-pound male Bengal tiger culminated at 9 p.m. Wednesday night when authorities were forced to euthanize the animal in Jackson, Ocean County. The animal was first reported in the area seven hours earlier.

"I'd like to thank the FBI, the New Jersey State Police and the Jackson and Freehold Township police departments for their invaluable assistance," said Division Director Bob McDowell. "Every effort was made to capture the tiger alive, however, after four hours of attempting to tranquilize and capture the animal and taking into consideration the darkness and densely forested terrain, authorities agreed that euthanization was the best option to restore safety to the neighborhood."

After an intense search effort that led authorities through dense woods and wetlands in almost total darkness, the tiger was located using infrared technology via an airplane. After attempts to dart the tiger failed to tranquilize it, a decision was made to euthanize the animal.

Shooting is an accepted method for the euthanization of potentially dangerous exotic animals in the field by the American Veterinary Association.

It is within the Division's authority to regulate the possession of potentially dangerous species. Proper regulation is essential and the Division employs a professional staff trained to handle such situations.

The Division's wildlife pathologist is examining the animal involved. It is hoped that the results will provide information identifying the owner. The tiger's remains will be cremated.