USDA Determining If Investigation Into Tiger Death Warranted

The U.S. Department of Agriculture is determining whether an investigation is warranted into the circumstances around the death of a tiger that bit a western South Dakota wildlife sanctuary employee.

USDA Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service spokeswoman Tanya Espinosa says officials will look into whether any noncompliance with federal law contributed to the incident at Spirit of the Hills Wildlife Sanctuary.

A sanctuary employee reported the loose tiger late Monday, and authorities found a staffer bitten several times. A Lawrence County deputy shot the tiger to prevent its escape.

A telephone message left at the sanctuary wasn’t immediately returned.

Espinosa says USDA conducted a routine inspection Sept. 28. Since then, 10 big cats, seven bears and a wolf hybrid have been transferred to a Colorado facility.