Grijalva Bill to End the Black Market Trade in Bear Parts Moves to Committee
Washington, D.C. – Today, Subcommittee on Fisheries, Wildlife and Oceans heard testimony on legislation introduced by Rep. Raúl M. Grijalva. H.R. 5534, the Bear Protection Act of 2008, would help stop the illegal poaching of bears and conserve global bear populations by establishing a national prohibition on the import, export, and interstate commerce in bear viscera, such as bear gallbladders.
There currently exists a patchwork of state laws regulating the bear parts trade: some states allow unfettered trade in these organs, some prohibit it, and still others allow the trade if the bears were killed in another state. The Bear Protection Act would assist local and state law enforcement by establishing a national prohibition.
The bile from bear gallbladders is used in traditional Asian medicines to treat a variety of illnesses, from diabetes to heart disease, as well as in some cosmetics and shampoos. Asian demand for bear viscera and products has increased with growing human populations and increased wealth. Although humane alternatives clearly exist, huge profits can be made selling endangered bear parts in Asia.
Dwindling Asian bear populations have caused poachers to look to American bears to meet market demand for bear parts and products. While each year more than 30,000 American black bears are legally hunted in North America, some estimates suggest that the number illegally killed by poachers may equal or exceed that number.
“The United States should have a simple, uniform policy against the killing of our American black bears for their gallbladders,” said Grijalva. “We must stop the unnecessary slaughter of these animals and protect them from the wanton destruction by unscrupulous dealers, who care more about profits than our natural resources.”
The bill is narrowly tailored to stop the poaching of bears for their organs, and does not impact lawful sport hunting under applicable state laws, including the keeping of bear trophies, hunting methods, or bag limits.