Gert ‘Abby’ Hedengran and Roena ‘Emma’ Hedengran

Officials kill tiger roaming around Moorpark in 2005

Tierra Rejada Valley, CA

February 22, 2005

Flowers and other items have been placed in a park on Thursday, February 23rd, in memory of a Tiger shot and killed Wednesday morning.  Wildlife officials shot and killed the 425-pound tiger after it had been roaming the area's hills for at least three weeks. The Tiger was tracked, then shot and killed in a ravine by Miller Park. The park has become a gathering place for people mourning the tiger's death. 

Authorities are attempting to determine who owned the tiger. A resident on nearby property had 5 big cats, but held permits for 6. The man told NBC4 that the Tiger killed Wednesday was not his cat.  Troy Swaugert of the California Department of Fish and Game stated, "We're still looking, we're still investigating, we're still trying to connect all the dots to bring us to whatever conclusion we can.”

Lorna Bernard, a Spokeswoman for the California Department of Fish and Game stated that the Tiger was shot several hundred yards from soccer and baseball fields at the edge of a housing development. "It's unfortunate that we had to kill it." "It's even more unfortunate that the person who owned it didn't come forward and alert us immediately. We might have been able to capture it."

Trackers with the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Wildlife Services and State Fish and Game had to shoot to kill because a tranquilizer would have taken five to 10 minutes to bring down the animal. They were concerned the animal might attack them or bolt onto a nearby highway. The trackers had been looking for the animal for 8 days, using infrared equipment at night. They had set traps with goat meat and chicken.

The hunt began after the discovery of paw prints on a ranch near the library that were far too large for native Bobcats or Mountain Lions. The size of the tracks indicated the animal weighed as much as 600 pounds.

Results of a necropsy completed Thursday are not yet available.

A federal court hearing is set for September 5th to allow Gert ‘Abby’ Hedengran and Roena ‘Emma’ Hedengran to admit their role leading up to and following the February 2005 shooting of a tiger the former Tierra Rejada Valley couple owned, that escaped and was shot and killed in Moorpark on February 22, 2005.

  (Photo courtesy of Karen Quincy Loberg/Star staff file photo)  A Ventura County Sheriff's Department helicopter lifts a 352-pound tiger after it was killed in Moorpark on Feb. 22, 2005. Officials cited public safety as their reason for choosing to shoot rather than tranquilize the animal.

Officials have alleged that the couple owned the 352-pound tiger and purposely misled investigators during the weeklong search that stretched from Simi Valley to the Santa Rosa Valley.  Professional trackers believed the tiger had been on the run for 3 weeks, based on paw prints, before they caught up with it in a city park near two schools, homes and busy Highway 23.  The Tiger was shot rather than tranquilized based on public safety reasons.

     (Photo courtesy of Juan Carlo / Star staff file photo)  Professional trackers believe the tiger had been on the run for three weeks, based on paw prints, before they caught up with it in a city park near two schools, homes and busy Highway 23.

   (Photo courtesy of Karen Quincy Loberg/Star staff file photo)  A Ventura County Sheriff's Department helicopter lifts a 352-pound tiger after it was killed in Moorpark on Feb. 22, 2005. Officials cited public safety as their reason for choosing to shoot rather than tranquilize the animal.

When the search began for the tiger’s owners, authorities turned their attention to the Hedengrans who had recently moved to the area from Temecula.  The couple had brought with them nearly 24 exotic cats that included African lions, tigers and lynxes.  Federal Agents arrested the couple on March 16, 2005 and they were later released on their own recognizance after being charged in connection with the shooting.  Initial charges carried a maximum sentence of 60 years in federal prison for Gert Hedengran and as much as 10 years in federal prison for Roena Hedengran.  The couple has repeatedly denied owning the tiger.

The Hedengrans, who now live outside Las Vegas, were expected to plead guilty to various animal welfare counts and other charges, but U.S. District Judge George H. King decided he needed more time to review the agreement before proceeding ahead.

Update:

The owners of a Tiger that was shot and killed as it roamed the hills of Simi Valley 2 years ago have pled guilty to several federal charges related to the animal's escape.  Gert "Abby" Hedengran pled guilty to obstruction of justice, making false statements and failing to maintain proper records as part of a plea deal with Prosecutors. His wife Roena "Emma" Hedengran pled guilty to a misdemeanor count of failing to maintain records of exotic felines.

The Hedengrans, now living in Nevada, were arrested in their Moorpark home in March 2005, after denying they were the owners of the Tiger. The Tiger had been seen roaming the brush near the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library for several weeks before it was killed by trackers.

Prosecutors have recommended that 58-year-old Gert Hedengran be sentenced to 14 months in prison and that his 54-year-old wife receive four months of home detention, three years probation and pay a fine.

     (Photo courtesy of NBC4)  State wildlife officials shot and killed a tiger roaming near a residential area in Moorpark.

    (Photo courtesy of NBC4)  Wildlife official Troy Swauger said the tiger posed a danger to the highway traffic on one side of the wooded area where it was found and to the residential area on the other side of the woods

     (Photo courtesy of NBC4)

     (Photo courtesy of NBC4)

     (Photo courtesy of NBC4)

    (Photo courtesy of NBC4)

     (Photo courtesy of NBC4)

  (Photo courtesy of NBC4)

  (Photo courtesy of NBC4)

  (Photo courtesy of Baron Bros. Nursery)  The big cat's paw prints had been spotted for weeks before the tiger was found.

    (Photo courtesy of Baron Bros. Nursery)

     (Photo courtesy of Baron Bros. Nursery)

Reference:

KNBC4 TV

Venture County Star

Moorpark Acorn

 North Country Times

Las Vegas Sun