By Miriam Raftery
Photo: Bengal tiger in India, via Wikipedia
Update July 2, 2018: Two Fish & Wildlife officials now tell ECM they believe reports of a tiger loose in East County are a hoax. Read our new story here: http://www.eastcountymagazine.org/fish-wildlife-service-concludes-invest...
Update July 1, 2018 8:40 p.m. Brush Fire Party Line’s Dennis Richardson interviewed Boulevard resident Christopher Mora, who lives on Jewel Valley Road. In the video, Mora says his mother received a text from a mutual friend who reported seeing the tiger near Benny’s Garage close by. Mora says he stopped by a Border Patrol station yesterday and asked if the tiger story was a hoax, and that an agent told him the story is real. This conflicts with a Sheriff media spokesperson this morning who stated that no sightings of the tiger have been reported other than by undocumented immigrants apprehended.
July 1, 2018 (Boulevard) – Reports of a possible tiger in East County have been made by undocumented immigrants picked up by the Border Patrol, dispatchers at the Sheriff’s office and Border Patrol have confirmed to East County Magazine. Reports of large paw prints have been reported by multiple residents in the Boulevard area and recreational enthusiasts in nearby McCain Valley report hearing what they believed sounded like a tiger growl.
But the only reported photo thus far appears to be a hoax, while eye witness accounts remain unconfirmed.
A group of undocumented immigrants taken into custody by Border Patrol first reported seeing the tiger but it was unclear whether they actually saw one and if so, which side of the border it was on, Karla Menzies at the Sheriff’s department today informed ECM. She said there have been no other sightings and also debunked a rumor that a deputy saw the animal. "There have been no sightings by any deputy," she stated.
A photo purporting to show a tiger crossing the border at Tecate, shown on radar, appears to be a hoax, since the same photo appeared in a publication in India, the Deccan Chronicle, back in February.
Border Patrol confirmed however that very large tracks seen near a deer carcass in Boulevard are being investigated by the California Fish & Wildlife Department. Several posters in online forums also claim to have tracks on their property that they believe appear larger than a typical mountain lion.
ECM has called Calif. Fish and Wildlife but have not yet heard back.
Other sources have indicated traps have been put out in Jewel Valley as a precaution but thus far there has been no confirmation of any tiger in the area.
Drug cartels have been known to use tigers and other exotic cats to guard drug stashes and to smuggle drugs into the U.S. in hidden compartments under tiger cages in the past. Also in recent months, tiger cubs have been seized at border crossings from people who obtained them in Tijuana, Mexico. Another tiger fell from a balcony in Tijuana and was injured. The owner of a private ranch in Tecate that kept exotic animals in 2013 told the Reader about a tiger that escaped, but was shot.
So it’s not inconceivable that an adult tiger could have escaped captivity and crossed the border (the border fence ends in rugged terrain in Jacumba, just east of Boulevard), but there’s thus far no evidence to confirm sighting reports, and the only purported photo lacks credibility.
If you have credible information. eyewitness accounts or photos, or evidence please let us know at (619) 698-7617 or firstname.lastname@example.org.