The following story appeared in the Spring/Summer 2012 issue of Born Free USA’s magazine, Animal Issues Digest.
I will never forget the first time I saw a bear in the wild. I was hiking over a small bridge in Juneau, Alaska, and stopped to marvel at the beauty of the wilderness surrounding me and the water beneath me.
Born Free USA, a leader in animal welfare and wildlife conservation, is urging Hawaii lawmakers to join the majority of U.S. states that fully prohibit the trade in bear gallbladders. Throughout the U.S. mainland, bears are killed for their gallbladders and bile. Hawaii is one of the few states that still allow trade of bear gallbladders. Although Hawaii lacks a wild bear population, this allowance — and the state’s location &mdash, could encourage bear poaching globally, compromises bans already in place on the mainland, and puts bears everywhere at risk.
Update (August 2011): Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo signed the bill into law. It takes effect on Jan. 1, 2012.
The New York Legislature has officially passed legislation to restrict the trade in bear gallbladders and bile, an issue brought to the Legislature’s attention by Born Free USA.
There are eight species of bears in the world and at least 44 “extant taxa,” meaning distinct subspecies, or “races.”
A subspecies is a group of animals who are, within the species they belong to, distinctly similar to each other but different, usually in very subtle ways, from other members of the species. Where their populations overlap with another subspecies, they freely interbreed.
The brown bear is almost always called the “grizzly” bear in both Canada and the United States, although one race, found on Kodiak and nearby islands in Alaska, often is popularly known as the “Kodiak bear.”
Surely one of the most iconic species of wildlife to inhabit Canada is the polar bear. Along with the beaver, moose, loon, eagle and wolf it is among the native wildlife species most often portrayed and easily identified by Canadians. But very few Canadians have seen one outside of zoos. Those who have are often eco-tourists who have made the trek to Churchill, Manitoba, on the west shore of Hudson Bay, which is an immense inland sea of 822,324 square kilometers (about 320,000 square miles). Polar bears move up and down that shoreline, their numbers often concentrated in and around the town of Churchill, in the province’s far northeast.
The American black bear is the most “successful” of the modern bears. Indeed, with a very roughly estimated population of about 900,000, there are something like three times more American black bears in the world than there are individuals of all other bear species combined.
From Animal Issues, Volume 40 Number 4, Winter 2009
Are we prepared to return to the killing fields of the 1970s and 1980s, when hundreds of thousands of elephant carcasses littered the African savannah, their faces literally sawn off for their bloody ivory tusks?