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From Seattle Times staff and The Associated Press

The search for a Bengal tiger reportedly on the loose in east Pierce County turned into a zoo,  stirring up nothing but a lot of traffic.

Pierce County sheriff’s spokesman Ed Troyer says the sighting in Puyallup on Thursday may have been a bobcat, or possibly a tiger kept as an illegal pet. But either way, the cat appears to be long gone and animal control and sheriff’sdeputies have moved on.

“The traffic down here is unbelievable,” said Troyer. “You wouldn’t believe how many people showed up here just to look.”

Troyer said there were two credible witnesses who reported seeing a 200-pound cat with black stripes. Subsequent sightings of the tiger appear to be phony, he said, and some 911 calls were traced to a prank.

One person perched an authentic looking stuffed animal on top of a work truck after the first tiger sighting was reported. Another person rode a motorcycle through the streets of Puyallup with a stuffed tiger on the back,  he said.

Troyer said in his Twitter account that deputies will not shoot the tiger if it’s found because they have been trained to “catch it by the toe.”

A Twitter account has been started by someone claiming to be the Puyallup tiger —  https://twitter.com/#!/Puyallup_Tiger— which had 506 followers by 6:30 p.m. The “tiger” posted that its paws hurt.