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July 18th, 2007
Rep. Grijalva Introduces Bill to End the Black Market Trade in Bear Parts

Washington, D.C. — Representative Raúl M. Grijalva recently introduced legislation that would help stop the illegal poaching of bears and conserve global bear populations.

HR 3029, The Bear Protection Act of 2007, would address the harmful trade in bear gallbladders and bile without impacting a state’s ability to make fundamental decisions regarding bear management. It would also work towards deterring bear poaching and facilitate prosecution of wildlife criminals while assisting state law enforcement officers in their effort to protect their resident bear populations.

“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.”

Poachers kill these bears, remove their gallbladders and leave their carcasses to rot, in order to supply Asian markets with bear galls and paws which are considered to have medicinal value in China, Japan, and Korea. Recent research shows that bear gallbladders and bile are being sold on both legal and illegal markets in the U.S. Gallbladders from North American bears are being obtained illegally and either marketed here or exported, while gallbladders and prepared products containing bile from endangered Asian bears are brought into the U.S. illegally and sold.

There currently exists a patchwork of state laws regulating the bear parts trade: some states allow unfettered trade in these organs, most prohibit it, and still others allow the trade if the bears were killed in another state. But once the gallbladder is removed, it is practically impossible to prove where the bear was killed. Thus, the continued trade from a small minority of states thwarts the wildlife management laws of the majority of states by facilitating a black market in bear galls.

American Black Bears reside throughout much of the continent, from northern Canada and Alaska south into Mexico, from the Atlantic to the Pacific. This includes 41 of the 50 U.S. states and all Canadian provinces except Prince Edward Island. By current estimates, more than 800,000 are living today on the continent.

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