Born Free USA Blog
by Will Travers,
Chief Executive Officer
What can you say about a big-hearted bloke who has rescued dolphins, tigers, elephants and more and whose parents once helped a lion cub from a department store by caring for him in their backyard and engineering his rightful return to Africa? You can safely say that he's got great animal instincts! In 1984, Will Travers joined his parents — "Born Free" film stars Virginia McKenna and Bill Travers — to form what became The Born Free Foundation. With knowledge, passion and compassion dripping from his every word, Will's blogs are sure to make you embrace our crusade to Keep Wildlife in the Wild ®.
Thanks to the determined efforts of Born Free USA staff, the New York state Legislature has approved legislation to restrict the trade in bear gallbladders and bile. The bill is now on its way to Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s desk for his signature.
As animal advocates, we often have to look at our efforts as “glasses half-full” because unequivocal victories are hard to come by. The goal in New York, as had been the case in the U.S. Congress for many years prior, was to completely prohibit the trade in bear viscera.
We know that the legal trade in bear gallbladders and bile encourages poaching of wild bears, cruel confinement of Asiatic black bears in China and elsewhere, and provides a cover for illegal trade.
But New York, one of only five states with no restrictions on the bear parts trade, was not quite ready to “go all the way.” And so, the bill was amended to regulate the trade with a strict permitting scheme for movement of galls. Better than nothing. Glass half-full.
We will monitor the situation now to see if the new law works – assuming, of course, that Cuomo signs it into law!
And we will continue similar efforts wherever the need arises, in other states such as Vermont and Wyoming.
The bear trade is a truly national problem.
My colleague, Adam Roberts, has warned for the better part of a decade about Bear Country USA in South Dakota, for years rumored to be selling bear parts. Now, the owners of this tourist attraction have pleaded guilty to doing just that: selling bear gallbladders. The galls were being shipped to Alaska, a state where purchase of gallbladders is prohibited.
How many more Bear Country USAs are there in America? How many more illegal operations? How many more bears being slaughtered for their gallbladders, worth more per ounce on the black market than gold or heroin? How many more bears will die before the rest of the states act? Before Congress acts once and for all?
But, of course, this is not a problem unique to our country. All over the world there is demand for bear gallbladders and bile.
A Chinese company that “milks” bears for their bile in horribly restrictive cages – cages from which the bears will never escape – now wants to “go public” on the Chinese stock market.
A Washington state business has been implicated in the manufacture of bear bile in Vietnam.
A new report on radio Free Asia highlights rampant bear bile trade in Laos.
The bottom line: from Alaska to New York, from the United States to Laos, the world over bears are targeted for their internal organs and they need our help.
Born Free USA will continue to work in the state, federal and international arena to ensure that bears are fully protected. There is no excuse for killing a bear for her gallbladder, orphaning her cubs, caging an endangered species. Just no excuse.