Dallas, TX (PRWEB) March 31, 2006
In May 2005, John Lewis, FBI deputy assistant director and top official in charge of domestic terrorism, stated, "The number one domestic terrorism threat is the eco-terrorism, animal-rights movement. These groups have a history of disregarding personal and civil rights of citizens in attempts to further their agenda."
Reliable sources within the animal rights (AR) community report that some extremist elements within their organizations are involved in a conspiracy to report false sightings of large cats such as lions, tigers, and leopards.
Marcus Cook, director of the Feline Conservation Federation states, "Failure to prevent and report a big cat escape is a crime, therefore, a false sighting of any big cat is a false crime report, itself a felony."
An expert on large cat behavior, Cook has assisted law enforcement agencies looking for reported cats. Cook states, "In most cases it does not take long to realize that there is no loose big cat." Cook explains that if a feline is loose, it is going to be seen in a couple of hours and physical evidence will be discovered as well.
Noting the difference in behavior between truly wild and captive-raised large cats, Cook adds, "In the wild, the mother feline must teach human avoidance to her offspring. That is why reintroduction of captive tigers into their natural habitat would be difficult."
"For captive-born cats", Cook says, "it's a simple equation. An escaped cat equals a dead cat."
September 2002 – an unidentified person allegedly dumped four African lions onto the rural Arkansas property of local lion and tiger owner, Steve Henning, without his knowledge or permission. Within the next 48 hours all four felines were sighted and shot dead by Henning, his neighbor Vaughan, a Cleburn County Sheriff's deputy and a Game and Fish officer.
July 2004 – a Florida G&F officer shot Bobo, a tame tiger that, according to Bobo's owner Steve Spiek, was allegedly released by a disgruntled former girlfriend.
February 2005 – a tiger sighted in a California neighborhood was shot dead later that same day by the authorities attempting to recapture it.
Cook wonders about the timing of some sightings.
October 2004 – coincidentally, on the same day the Kansas Wildlife and Parks Department held a public comment hearing on regulations to prohibit exotic cats, newspapers ran a story of a dead mountain lion found dumped near a southwest Shawnee County road.
Because a KWP officer had been on that road about five hours earlier, officials believe the sub-adult mountain lion had been dumped there to appear that a vehicle had hit it. A preliminary exam determined the declawed mountain lion had been dead for several days and had no broken bones. Investigators concluded its death was not vehicle related.
January 2005 – a pair of young tigers were picked up outside of Charlotte, NC. Cook described the young tigers as healthy, well behaved, and leash trained. He recalls how animal rights radicals issued statements ranging from "look at what someone abandoned" to "this is why exotics should not be kept in North Carolina”.
Cook said the evidence points to the cats having been acquired by animal rights fanatics and set free to be "discovered".
In other instances, Cook notes that the feline is never found.
Summer of 2004 – Ohio media spotlighted a series of “Gahanna lion” sightings. A law enforcement officer and a truck driver first reported seeing the large cat. Television helicopters hovering over the area failed to locate the alleged 300-pound feline. That same evening a military helicopter equipped with heat-seeking technology found only a horse, but no lion.
More sightings led Evelyn Shaw and other volunteers to search the Port Columbus International Airport. "We never found a lion, but we did see a coyote run off," says Shaw.
Weeks later Licking County schoolteachers and children sighted the feline. Sheriff's deputies secured and searched the area using a dog but did not find any tracks, footprints or hair, school principal Patricia Doran said.
August 27 through September 12, 2004 – fourteen tiger sightings were reported at Fort Polk army base in Louisiana. One hundred soldiers, trackers, trappers and police using military helicopters equipped with the same technology used to flush out Al Qaeda terrorists failed to locate the large cat. "There has been no physical evidence such as tiger tracks found to prove the tiger is on the post," Fort Polk spokeswoman Samantha Bingham said.
March 2006 – the most recent round of tiger sightings started in Berlin, Alabama. All searches have so far failed to turn up physical evidence of the feline. Dubbed "the runaway tiger" by the media, newer reports in Cullman County continue being called in.
Participants in the animal rights "false sightings scheme" are encouraged to enlist friends and relatives in filing false reports to lend credibility with numerous eyewitnesses. Additionally, the groups are counseled to call reports when law enforcement staffing is at lower levels, such as Sundays and on holidays.
Cook advises citizens living near areas where large cats are reported to be especially vigilant and take proper precautions. "Take all reports seriously until the animal is found or a lack of evidence is established. Remember, a big black cat doesn't necessarily mean there is a black leopard running loose. Many such sightings are just a big black domestic cat, as some can weigh up to 24 lbs."
Cook advises not to let fanatics succeed in enveloping America in a cloud of fear. "We have to continue to live our lives and use our power of reason and our superior intellect to outwit the extreme left-wing AR agenda."
Speaking for the Feline Conservation Federation, Cook stated, “If American citizens use terror tactics against their own people, it is imperative that we make certain that no matter what their objective, they do not achieve it through these means.”