As the reports started trickling in yesterday that more and more of the Terry Thompson's escaped exotic animals had been killed my law enforcement officials, many people probably thought the same thing--why hadn't tranquilizers or some other non-lethal message been used? Why was it neccesary to kill so many animals, especially considering the bengal tigers and lions are on the endangerd species list?
The reason, according to people who were on the scene was simple self preservation and prioritizing human life over the lives of the animals.
Jack Hanna--a former director of the Columbus Zoo and famous for his TV nature shows--told ABC news that their was simply no other choice besides allowing the animals to start killing people.
I'm sorry to say, but what the sheriff did had to be done, Hanna said to ABC. Otherwise, we would have had carnage out here in Zanesville, Ohio.
Authorities and veternarians did try to use tranquilizers to bring the animals down and save their lives, but darkness and the time it takes for a tranquilizer to take affect made that plan unworkable, according to the Washington Post.
The Post reported one incident where local veternarian Barb Wolfe of local wildlife refuge The Wilds tried to take down a tiger with a tranquilizer dart. Quickly, Wolfe and the assembled law enforcement realized the situation was unsafe and uncontrollable.
I was about 15 feet from him and took a shot, and it didn't respond too much, and I thought we were OK, but within about 10 seconds he roared and started toward me, she said to The Post.
Will Travers, chief executive at Born Free, a California refuge, told the Post that incident was a tragedy but that their was no other choice for the police to make.
Not all agree with this assessment.
(Muskingum County Sherriff Matt) Lutz's ignorant savagery and Hanna's defense of it is the reflexive attitude of too many police and public officials in this country, and not just when it comes to exotic animals. Police too often respond to one complaint with a hail of bullets - even when it's native wildlife like black bears, wolves or mountain lions, Glenn Hurowitz of the Center for International Policy wrote his blog on The Huffington Post.
Hurowitz also said that Lutz should face review of his actions, and should probably lose his job.