Aug 22, 2007
End the illegal trade in bear parts and products
Introduced by U.S. Representative Raul M. Grijalva (D-AZ), the Bear Protection Act of 2008 (H.R. 5534) would prohibit the import, export and interstate trade in bear viscera, specifically gall bladders and bile.
The Convention on the International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES), which provides protections to all eight species of bears, has noted that the illegal trade in bear bile poses a significant threat to global bear populations and recommends that countries party to the pass domestic law to end the bear parts trade. In the U.S., the grizzly bear is listed as “Threatened” under the Endangered Species Act, and many states have particularly small and vulnerable bear populations.
A patchwork of state laws hampers enforcement of the international prohibition on the trade in bear viscera. The lack of uniform federal legislation specifically banning interstate trade in bear parts makes proper enforcement difficult and fosters illegal poaching and trade. Although the majority of states (34) prohibit commercial trade in bear parts, others allow it either fully or partially, explicitly or through default. The Bear Protection Act of 2008 (H.R. 5534) would aid law enforcement officials and help protect American bear galls from becoming contraband in the global market.
WSPA uncovered evidence of the illegal trafficking of bear bile in the U.S., Canada, Japan, Taiwan, Korea, Singapore, Australia and New Zealand in 2006.
Illegal bear products were found for sale in traditional Asian medicine shops in 6 of 8 U.S. cities examined: Boston, New York City, San Francisco, Chicago, Los Angeles, and Seattle.
Intact gall bladders made up 63% of all bear products found for sale in the U.S.
$2800 was the price tag on a gall from a wild U.S. bear offered for sale in Los Angeles.
A Boston shop offered 30 galls for sale.
A U.S. bear gall was offered for sale in a traditional medicine shop in Taiwan.
Commercial bear bile is obtained through poaching of wild bears and extraction of bile from live captive bears, an inhumane process known as bear farming. Bear farming started in China in the 1980s with the intent to reduce pressure on wild bear populations, however wild bears continue to suffer. Bile from wild bears is considered to be more potent and therefore demands a higher price.
The Bear Protection Act of 2008 does not interfere with a state's right to regulate bear hunting; it simply prevents poachers from manipulating the intent of states' laws to avoid prosecution, and takes a significant step in ending the suffering of these beautiful creatures.