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.
Without this law in place, there are no limits or regulations on the sale of gallbladders and bile in the state of New York. We worked with the leaders in both the Senate and the Assembly to enact a strict prohibition on commercial trade in bear gallbladders and bile. Disappointingly, and despite our diligent efforts, both chambers amended the bill to allow trade under certain circumstances.
The final bill prohibits possessing, bartering, selling or offering to sell or barter bear gallbladders/bile unless the gallbladder or bile also is attached to a valid bear hunting tag. Possession of bear gallbladder/bile without a tag is evidence of a violation and is punishable with a minimum $5,000 fine (which is significant for a wildlife crime!). Because only one bear may be legally hunted a year, lawful hunters are limited to trade only one bear gallbladder/bile product each year. Anyone without a lawfully acquired tag will be fully prohibited from participating in the trade and prosecuted. Compared with the previous lack of any restriction, this is a major improvement.
We also fought hard for — and won — the inclusion of a provision that requires taxidermists to keep detailed registries of gallbladders/bile trade and to provide those records annually to the Department of Environmental Conservation. These requirements will help law enforcement officers track movement of bear parts and prosecute unscrupulous profiteers. And it will help Born Free USA track the bear parts trade within the state.
We are not done yet! Born Free USA will continue its work to eliminate the bear gallbladder/bile trade throughout the United States.