IDAHO FALLS –
Winter campers, Tom and Mellisa Elbert, received a shock when they saw a Siberian tiger chasing a deer through the woods in eastern Idaho. The young couple had snow-shoed into the Idaho side of the Teton Mountains and were sitting in their camp when the tiger ran by chasing the deer. The deer and tiger looped around twice before the tiger brought down the deer and quickly killed it with a fatal bite to the throat.
Above: Siberian tiger chasing wild deer in Idaho
Next the campers claim they saw a man on a snowmobile approach the kill, set up a flood light, dress the deer and then load it up and speed away with the tiger running happily alongside.
“He was petting the tiger and talking sweetly to it in a baby voice while he was dressing the deer. The tiger was licking him,” Tom Elbert said. “This tiger appeared to be his pet. Not appeared, the tiger was clearly this man’s pet.”
Idaho Fish & Game has received several reports of a man using a Siberian tiger to hunt deer in the area but have written them off as practical jokes same as they do bigfoot sightings. Now with the photo evidence, they have started a search and investigation.
“I have to admit this is an ingenious way to hunt,” Idaho Fish & Game officer Jim Knudsen said. “But we can’t have a tiger and a man out killing deer. It’s a major public safety issue. We’ll put a stop to this man and his tiger.”
Some would think owning a Siberian tiger would be illegal, but Idaho is one of a handful of states that allow exotic animal ownership with no restrictions.
Above: States shaded beige allow unrestricted exotic animal ownership
Born Free, the lobbying organization against exotic animal ownerships, released a short statement: “The situation reported in Idaho is just another reason exotic animal ownership must receive a federal ban. Tigers are wonderful animals, but they should not be running around the woods of Idaho hunting deer.”
Idaho Fish & Game urges people to report any Siberian tiger sightings in Eastern Idaho and warns people not to approach the tiger if they do come into contact.
“Even though the tiger has been reported as tame,” Knudsen said. “They can turn on a dime and attack and kill.”