Fueling Illegal Trade in Bear Parts
Today, Big Wildlife, a wildlife protection organization based in the Pacific
Northwest, urged Olympic athletes and the International Olympic Committee to
routine and systematic abuse of bears. Throughout China and across much
of Asia, bear parts – including gallbladders, bile, hides, and paws – are
coveted for use in traditional medicine and hailed as a cure-all for a variety
of ailments from sexual impotency to treating fevers. Bear paws are also
considered a delicacy in soup in China
and other parts of Asia. Big Wildlife said
demand for bear parts is fueling an international bear trade industry, leading
to an escalation in poaching of bears and trafficking of bear parts around the
insatiable appetite for bear parts, including gall bladders, bile, hides, and
paws, is fueling a grisly trade that stretches across the globe. Today, we urge
Olympic heroes to take a stand against China's systematic abuse of one of
the world's most magnificent animals,” said Brian Vincent, Big Wildlife’s
of Asia’s five bear species – the sun bear,
sloth-bear, brown bear, Asiatic black bear, and the giant panda – has suffered
from the Chinese medicinal trade, as well as from habitat destruction. As a
result, bears in North America and Russia are increasingly killed,
many illegally, to supply the booming Asian market. An estimated 80,000 black
bears are killed in the U.S.
every year to meet demands in bear parts for Asia.
In the U.S.,
there are no federal restrictions on selling bear parts. Each state has its own
laws regulating the trade. And the bear parts trade is big business. Undercover
investigations have revealed that a dried bear gallbladder can be worth as much
as $30,000 and a single serving of bear paw soup can go for as much as $1,400.
World-wide trafficking of bear parts is valued at $2 billion.
Wildlife also said in China
nearly 10,000 bears are kept in “farms” where they are routinely drained of
their bile through devices implanted in the animals. Bears are confined in
cages, which vary from tiny "crush" cages to larger pens, all of
which cause terrible physical and mental trauma. The bears are subjected to
painful methods of bile extraction involving crude surgery to implant a steel
catheter into the abdomen or the creation of a permanent hole in the abdomen
known as the "free-dripping" technique. Many bears die as a result of
the unsanitary surgery and those that survive spend the rest of their lives
suffering in pain and deprivation.