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Support the Bear Protection Act

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.

Click here to take action >>

Download a PDF of the state laws >>

NEW!  Read about WSPA's supplemental report on the domestic trade in bear parts and products >>

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.

 

Bear Farming and Poaching

Bear bile is used in traditional Asian medicine to treat a variety of disorders from liver and eye conditions to hemorrhoids and inflammation, as well as included in some shampoos and cosmetics. Demand for bear bile continues despite widespread acceptance and availability of herbal and synthetic alternatives.

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.

Take Action

Contact your U.S. Representative and urge them to co-sponsor and pass H.R. 5534, the Bear Protection Act of 2008>>

Don't know who to contact? Visit www.house.gov or www.senate.gov or call the U.S. Capitol switchboard at 202-224-3121.

 

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