Reply From Maria Davidson LDW&F 5.3.2010   7 comments

Reply From Maria Davidson LDW&F 5.3.2010

This reply was received today from Maria Davidson,  Large Carnivore Program Manager from the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries. We’ll let FTTT friends draw their own conclusions. Contact information for Maria Davidson follows the letter.

May 3, 2010

RE: Permit issued to Michael Sandlin


I received your email of concern about the department’s decision to permit Michael Sandlin’s tiger on display at the Tiger Truck Stop in Iberville Parish and do want to explain the Department’s position.

Prior to 2006, there was no state level regulation over big exotic cats. This allowed virtually anyone to import, possess, and exhibit big cats with little or no oversight, allowing cats to be kept in inhumane conditions without regard to the safety of the cat or the public.

Act 715 was passed by the 2006 Legislature prohibiting citizens from keeping a tiger as a pet or exhibiting a tiger in the state of Louisiana, except that the act allowed a person to continue to keep a tiger as a pet if he owned the tiger prior to passage of the act (a “grandfather” provision). After Act 715 was passed, the Department of Wildlife and Fisheries promulgated the first state wide regulations over big exotic cats. These stringent regulations provide for the safety of the public and the animal, and include provisions for identification, escape plans, secure, adequate enclosures, the ongoing humane treatment of the cats, and a prohibition on acquiring additional cats.

In writing these regulations, Wildlife and Fisheries consulted with zoo management professionals and large carnivore veterinary specialists. Their input and recommendations were included in the final regulations approved for the permitting process.

Mr. Sandlin’s tiger had been kept at the business since 2000 and the truck stop owner submitted a permit application to Wildlife and Fisheries, as required, to be allowed to keep the tiger under the grandfather provision of the act. During the initial permit review it was discovered that a 1993 Iberville Parish ordinance prohibited possession of a tiger as a pet. Based on that ordinance the Department denied the permit application. The business owner filed a lawsuit claiming the right to keep the tiger and a temporary restraining order was issued by the Iberville Parish Court in December 2008, pending a determination of whether Tiger Truck Stop complied with the parish ordinance governing possession of exotic cats.

The Parish Council subsequently exempted Mr. Sandlin from the parish ordinance. This required the Department to resume the permitting process and, after Mr. Sandlin brought his exhibit space into compliance with the permit criteria and met the other state permit requirements, the permit was issued by the Department in December 2009. The enclosure has been found to be adequate for a tiger and the diet provided the tiger is sufficient. The tiger has access to the grass area of the enclosure except during cleaning and is allowed free access to his night house at all times. The night house is air conditioned during the hot summer months and a pool of water is provided for the tiger. The concrete floor areas are cleaned and disinfected daily. The Department remains in contact with the Parish Animal Control. Iberville parish animal control inspects the enclosure once a week at random, unannounced times and has not identified any problems.

The Department will continue to monitor the condition of the animal and the exhibit space, and Mr. Sandlin must renew his permit annually. Public safety and welfare of the animal will continue to be of primary concern in this process.

Thank you for your concern and comments on this situation.


Maria Davidson
Large Carnivore Program Manager

Contact Information For Maria Davidson:

Maria Davidson
Large Carnivore Program Manager
Louisiana Department Wildlife and Fisheries
5652 Highway 182
Opelousas LA 70570

Phone: (337) 948-0255
Fax: (337) 948-0213



Posted May 3, 2010 by Free Tony The Tiger in Uncategorized

7 responses to “Reply From Maria Davidson LDW&F 5.3.2010

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  1. What does it say about this government agency who STILL doesn’t do anything about an animal who OBVIOUSLY needs their help? Tony has been living in a hellhole ALL of his more than 10 years on earth! WHY?

    He doesn’t have a pool of water to SWIM in. He barely, IF EVER gets to have grass under his feet! He’s NEVER seen the stars in the darkened sky, or breathed FRESH air either.

    WE can all SEE it’s NOT a good environment, that it’s NOT a Healthy Atmosphere.

    UNLESS Michael Sandlin is paying them off, this government agency WORKS for US. There is NO Excuse Good Enough, that would ‘allow’ this man to continue to get away with keeping a wild animal in what they themself have described as ‘the bare minimum’ as required by law.

    I’m simply disgusted! Shame on the LDW&F.

  2. They say that a picture speaks a thousand words….

    This is where Tony lives now:

    And this is where he should be living:

    Please watch both videos and then ask yourself how can any sane, educated person think that he’s actually better off living as a road side attraction next to a truck stop parking lot??

  3. In regard to Martha Belton’s post, she is absolutely correct. In a recent video taken of Tony, the air conditioning mentioned in Maria Davidson’s reply was apparently not in use as the tiger was panting profusely. We need to move forward on this and quit pussy footing around. Thank you Martha for your elequont reply.

  4. Ms. Davidson,

    Thanks for your explanation of your office’s position concerning the tiger held in Iberville Parish. My concern, however, remains since this animal is an endangered species and claims that category primarily because of poaching and other inhumane treatment by the ones whom God charged with protecting them. I would encourage Louisiana Wildlife and Fisheries to think about the protection of wildlife and fish which is your purpose for existing. The very idea of having a wonderful animal on display in such a confined area because, according to Mr. Sandlin, he brings such “joy” to those passers by who stare at him for maybe five minutes before they are on their way again. Let them watch the Discovery Channel, National Geographic, or Animal Planet I’m sure Mr. Sandlin believes he is providing an adequate space for the tiger, and maybe he is in compliance with what is required, but you all have to know how abusive this really is. Sanctuaries are there for just such creatures as this who have been born in captivity and need space more like their natural habitat.

    Martha Belton

  5. Dear Ms. Davidson,

    Thank you for your reply. While it eases my mind somewhat, it still doesn’t mean that Tony doesn’t deserve more freedom, room and privacy. He is like a circus freak on display and that saddens me greatly. I understand his general needs are being met but it seems a better place for him would be more like the natural habitat of a big cat!

    Again, thank you for taking the time to post this information. Any assistance you can provide is greatly appreciated.

  6. i have tried emailing marie davidson but it came back as unknown user

    Free Tony before its too late he may never know and share his own kind before he dies please free Tony and let him live the rest of his live the way mother nature intended

    Roberta Bown

  7. Tony still needs a lot more room,not to be breathing fumes,&having things thrown at him…I still feel he needs to be freed from his little jail & taken to a sanctuary.,where he can be with other tigers.

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