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House Legislation

Sponsor(s): Raśl M. Grijalva (D-AZ)

H.R. 3480 Bear Protection Act of 2009

Purpose: This bill would address the harmful trade in bear gallbladders and bile, thereby preventing the unnecessary slaughter of American black bears and protecting highly endangered bear species across the globe.

Status: Referred to the Subcommittee on Insular Affairs, Oceans and Wildlife.

Action: SUPPORT. Please contact your U.S. Representative and urge him/her to support H.R. 3480. Tell your Representative that North American black bears are under increased threat from poachers, smugglers, and dealers who exploit these magnificent creatures to supply the lucrative trade in bear parts and products.

Talking Points for your letter:

  • Bear gallbladders and bile are used in traditional Chinese medicine to treat maladies ranging from delirium to hemorrhoids and now are also used in cosmetics such as shampoo.
  • There is a bounty on the heads of America’s black bears. Bear carcasses have been found across the U.S. with their gallbladders removed and the carcasses left to rot. Poachers and profiteers are commercializing our natural resources to make a buck, selling bear organs illicitly throughout the world and putting bear species at risk.
  • Existing law consists of 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.
  • The U.S. needs a uniform policy against the killing of bears for their gallbladders. Demand for bear parts has already decimated Asian bear populations including the endangered Asiatic black bear. 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, primarily for use in traditional Asian medicine.
  • By uniformly prohibiting the trade in bear parts, the Bear Protection Act will assist state law enforcement officers in their effort to protect their resident bear populations.

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