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Stop the Trade in Bear Parts

Bear Bile In Depth

Bear gallbladders and bear bile are used in Asia and Asian communities in the United States to create medicines and luxury cosmetic items and toiletries such as shampoos and even hemorrhoid creams. Bear paws are also used in high-priced bowls of soup, known to fetch hundreds of dollars per serving.

Sadly, these bear parts are obtained through inhumane and illegal methods. Bears are often poached, their abdomens sliced open, the gallbladders removed, and the bodies left to rot. In China and Southeast Asia, endangered Asiatic black bears are incarcerated in small cages and a steel catheter is used to "milk" them for their bile. When they stop producing viable quantities of bile, they are usually killed.

There are synthetic alternatives to using bear parts, as well as dozens of herbal substitutes that would still conform to traditional Chinese medicinal practices.

The trade in bears is a global problem, that not only affects North American bears, but also the highly endangered Asiatic black bear and other imperiled bear species.

Born Free USA is working to protect all bears affected by this ghastly trade. Find out more, and help our important work to stop the trade in bear parts.

I. Read more about the threats to bears

II. Learn more about the use of bear bile and bear gallbladders

III. Stop the killing of bears for their parts

  • State-by-state

    A majority of states prohibit the bear parts trade; a small minority allow it; and others allow internal sale if the bear was killed outside the state. Currently, apprehension of bear poachers or bear parts smugglers is very difficult, and prosecution is even harder. If caught, offenders often claim that the bear part or product came from one of the minority of states that allows unfettered trade. It is difficult to scientifically prove otherwise. To see your state's law, click here.

    And contact adam@bornfreeusa.org if you would like to help campaign for a change to the laws in your state.
  • Internationally

    The Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) approved a resolution in 1997 unanimously calling on all Parties to confirm, adopt, or improve their national legislation to deter the illegal trade in bear parts. To view the resolution click here.

Operation Something Bruin

In March 2013 Born Free USA was encouraged by news coming out of the American Southeast.

For the previous two years the North Carolina Resources Commission, Georgia Department of Natural Resources, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and the U.S. Forest Service had cooperated to investigate an elusive ring of illegal hunters.

The investigation, called "Operation Something Bruin," culminated in the discovery of almost 1,000 wildlife violations and the arrest of more than 80 people. Among the violations cited were 10 incidents of illegally killing bears. In some instances, the gallbladders, paws and other parts had been removed and stored.

Suspects were charged with crimes such as illegal baiting, illegal use of dogs while hunting, and killing animals out of season. Those convicted faced a $2,000 fine and the possibility of jail time. Federal charges, which carry heavier penalties, were expected to be brought against many of the poachers.