What if we introduced Siberian tigers into the Canadian wilderness?

The world’s tiger population isn’t doing well. Their habitats are shrinking, and tigers (which need a lot of space) are vanishing. There may be fewer than 5,000 of these magnificent beasts remaining in the wild, and they’re mercilessly hunted.

However, there’s lots of tigers in capitivity. A LOT; more than there are in the wild. Tigers are easily bred (relatively speaking) and live a long time, and are wildly popular attractions, so any zoo worth its salt and some that aren’t have tigers.

So why not take a whole mess of Siberian tigers and drop them in Canada’s wilderness?

Canada has a LOT of wilderness. The northern boreal and sub-boreal forests are vast beyond imagining and largely unpopulated. Canada exerts reasonably strong control over its natural resources and poaching and such, and I suspect people would find the idea of Canada having tigers really cool, and would support efforts to have them here.

But what impact would this have?

  1. What impact would the introduction of tigers have on present Canadian predators, such as wolves, coyotes, cougars, lynx, and black, brown and polar bears? Could they make much of a dent in their prey animals, such as deer?

  2. Tigers are exceptionally aggressive and dangerous, and have no problems with eating people. If we were to introduce, say, 500 tigers across the broad swath of Canadian forest, even if fairly far north away from the big cities, how many campers, loggers, and fishing lodge tourists would be eaten? Wouldn’t that be great?

  3. Assuming poaching is controlled, are there any reasons tigers could not survive in Canada?

I’ve sometimes wondered the same thing about those snow monkeys in Japan. They can survive in temperate climates, why not bring them over to our northern temperate forest and let 'em go nuts?

As for the tigers, sounds good to me, but people who live in northern Canada, however vast, might have differing opinions.

And in either case, you have to wonder about native species being eaten or displaced.

Intentionally introducing wild foreign animals to an environment is never a good idea. Assuming they simply wouldn’t drop dead, they’d be devastating to local predators and prey.

But a Tiger/Polar Bear fight would be awesome, so I say we do it.

Ditto to what Menocchio said. Just ask an Australian (a native, not a Canadian ex-pat like me) what they think of rabbits sometime, or red foxes.

Why must it be one extreme or the other? The large fauna of the Canadian north is accustomed to predation by large mammalian predators. I doubt a tiger is any more dangerous to a caribou herd than a pack of wolves, even if individually the tiger is more impressive. They would compete with the other large predators - I expect mostly wolves, as I don’t believe the large bears are much for big game - but they aren’t obviously grossly superior. They coexist with nearly all the same species (or very close cousins) in Siberia.

I’m no expert in ecology but the Australian cases are hardly comparable for a host of reasons, not least of which is how closely related the Siberian and Canadian Arctic ecosystems are to begin with.

I’m not sure how keen on the idea Inuit hunters would be, though.

I know everyone always says foreign spieces in new environments are bad, but all the animals didn’t start out at the same location. Either man introduced them or they walked.

On another note how about penguins at the north pole. Great Auks and such couldn’t fly and were quite penguin like. So in a way it’d kind of be akin to re-introducing an extinct spieces.

The real problem with Siberian Tigers (and all tigers) is that they are very social toward humans. If they are bred in captivity they are still very dangerous but no longer fear humans. Siberian Tigers don’t really attack humans, it is the Bengal tiger that is more prone to attack humans.

That is why breeding programs are hard because if the tiger has any association with a human it learns quickly not to fear it. Tigers must be taught hunting skills and the few programs that have released captive bred tigers have been failures because the tigers just don’t seem to know what to do unless a mother tiger teaches it.

Siberian Tigers have been known to eat small bears and baby brown bears, but a full grown bear is more than a match for a tiger and the two will just leave each other alone.

The Siberian tiger is similar to a bear in that it will eat any kind of meat from a boar, to a deer or something as small as a rabbit. Unlike a bear which eats both meat and veggies, Tigers are meat eaters only (though like all cats they’ll eat a plant now and then)

True, but people rarely intentionally introduced a wild species just because they can. It has happened, but not often and almost never to the benefit of the local species.

The loss of wild tigers would be tragic, but the potential damage to Canadian wildlife (and people!) is too much. It’s just not a smart experiment.

Wha? :eek:

I guess my feeling is that if the Canadian environment was good for Siberian tigers, they would already be there, without any help from us.

Not to mention that when it happens naturally, the ecosystem and the tigers adapt to each other gradually, reaching equilibrium with a minimum of fuss. Drop 500 top-level predators into an environment suddenly, and it’s like an ecological atom bomb. I’m guessing that the tigers might suddenly be subject to a wide variety of endemic viruses, bacteria, fungi, and parasites that they are simply to evolved to deal with, and fare poorly. Another possibility is that they flourish and tear the hell out of native fauna, reaching a much higher predator density than the Canadian boreal forests have ever seen.

The take-home: exotic species are almost invariably horrible for the ecology of the place where they’re introduced. I can think of many species that haven’t particularly done much damage because they aren’t very invasive, but I can think of fifty or more off the top of my head that have proven to be terrible for various ecologies. I can’t think of a single one that has proven beneficial, in toto.

Well, there’s this little thing called the Bering Sea…

Introducing Siberian tigers to the wilds of Canada would effectively place millions of rural Canadians’ lives in jeopardy for no good reason.

Have you seen the size of those things close up?

Some loon like the late Timothy Treadmill can convince himself that he had a special relationship with grizzly bears and could control them with his singing. His delusion grew only because a bear didn’t attack and eat him until he’d committed his folly a few dozen times. A folly encouraged by such low lifes as Letterman who had the idiot as a guest on his show.

With a Siberian tiger, Timothy wouldn’t get one note out of his mouth before he became lunch.

The idea is insane and irresponsible. It should not be permitted under any circumstances.

But that would put canadian tigers out of a job


Sounds like a good idea to me, but the polar bears will probably be pissed off. So, I suggest we move them to Burlington, Ontario to make room.

I think that that might be a slight exageration.

Population density in the environment in which the tigers would be released is minimal, and the inhabitants are already used to dealing with other dangerous species.

You could also fit all the released tigers with trackers, and close monitoring of them after release (including tagging off-spring) would ensure that should any start to migrate into densely populated regions they could be dealt with (capture and release). Afterall game reserves in Africa manage to deal with large and/or dangerous animals, and nearby human populations with relatively few fatalities, similarly in India.

My concern would be the impact to native fauna, and I think that it is generally a bad idea to mess with ecosystems in this way.

I would support the reintroduction of wild wolves, boar and other extinct species to the UK, as the only reason we no longer have those is predation by man.

I once saw a Siberian tiger up close, at Whipsnade zoo - it scared the sh/t out of me.

Idiots are talking about re-introducing wolves to Scotland to cull deer

  • anyone read Cyril K Kornbluth’s stories on ‘The Marching Morons’ ?

In S.M. Stirling’s book Dies the Fire a “Change” occurs. Firearms, explosives, electric gadgets are rendered useless. With that lack a lot of humans start dying off.

Later on some of the characters that do survive note that zookeepers must have released their charges when they were no longer able to care for them. The main part of the story is set in the Pacific Northwest, and tigers get a special mention, as it’s noted they are doing well in the wild. As one person notes, even if some have never hunted there’s still one large, fairly slow moving prey animal left. It just walks on two legs, not four. Later on other former zoo species not native to North America are noted to be surviving and flourishing as well.

:smack: Dunno what I was thinking. Maybe I thought they’d stowaway on ships or something.

I can’t see how wolves would be that dangerous to any native species, including humans, considering they were former natives. OTOH, were you concerned about the sheep?

I do, however, see a difference between introducing a species that’s never been in an area and reintroducing a species that historically has been, and has become rare or locally extinct due to human causes.

I don’t know if Scotland is too populated to reintroduce wolves, but similar efforts in Canada and the US have been successful.