updated 3/16/2005 8:17:17 PM ET 2005-03-17T01:17:17

A couple were arrested and charged Wednesday with lying to authorities when they denied they were the owners of a 350-pound tiger that was shot and killed as it roamed the hills near the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library.

Gert “Abby” Hedengran, 56, and his wife, Roena “Emma” Hedengran, 52, were arrested at their Moorpark home.

Investigators traced the tiger to the Hedengrans through photographs, including one of Gert Hedengran with the big cat, said Steve Martarano, spokesman for the California Department of Fish and Game.

The Hedengrans had come under suspicion because they were among the few owners of large cats in the area.

'Lied repeatedly'
The couple were charged with obstruction of justice. Gert Hedengran also was charged with making false statements, submitting false records and destruction of evidence.

“They lied repeatedly about ownership of the cat. They said from the start that they had no missing animals,” Martarano said.

Trackers killed the animal on Feb. 23 near a housing development and the Reagan library, about 20 miles northwest of Los Angeles. The tiger had been declawed and apparently was raised in captivity, but authorities did not know that until after the cat was killed.

The Hedengrans had recently moved to Moorpark from Temecula, where they had permits to have three large tigers, but investigators found only two tigers on their Moorpark property, authorities said.

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