Feline Conservation Federation

Generic Tiger Ruling

The Generic Tiger Ruling by Fish and Wildlife Service

History: The Captive-bred Wildlife (CBW) registration system followed an extensive public review in 1978 and 1979. The final rule granted general, conditional permission to take; export or re-import; deliver, receive, carry, transport, or ship in the course of a commercial activity; or sell or offer for sale in interstate or foreign commerce any non-native endangered or threatened wildlife that is bred in captivity in the United States. For persons or institutions to operate under the CBW permit, certain conditions must be met, including that the person or institution must first register with the Service.

September 11, 1998:  The US Fish and Wildlife Service published their final rule that deleted the requirement to obtain a CBW registration for eight species of pheasants, a few parakeet species, the Laysan duck, and the generic' or inter-subspecific crossed tiger. 

The Service's logic in removing a CBW registration for the interstate commerce for the breeding of generic tigers stated:

Generic or crossed tigers cannot be used for enhancement of propagation of the species, however they can be used in a manner that should enhance survival of the species in the wild. Examples include exhibition in a manner designed to educate the public about the ecological role and conservation needs of the species and satisfaction of demand for tigers so that wild specimens or captive purebred subspecies are not used.

In other words, generic tigers could not fulfill the strict goals of a CBW registration, but the Fish and Wildlife Service recognized that generic tigers had value to conservation as educational animals.  Since the issuance of that ruling, the population of generic tigers has grown significantly. The deregulation of tigers encouraged diversity of the captive population's genetics through increased interstate movement of bloodlines.

May 6, 2016: The U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service has finalized a rule that strengthens protections for certain captive tigers under the Endangered Species Act (ESA). The final rule declares that captive “generic tigers” (Panthera tigris) (i.e., specimens not identified or identifiable as members of Bengal, Sumatran, Siberian or Indochinese subspecies (P. t. tigris, P. t. sumatrae, P. t. altaica and P. t. corbetti, respectively) are no longer exempt from certain permitting requirements. Anyone selling tigers across state lines must now first obtain an interstate commerce permit or register under the Captive-bred Wildlife Registration (CBW) program, regardless of whether it is a generic tiger or a pure subspecies.