Poaching of bear gallbladders used in traditional medicine increases
Bear gallbladders are now all the rage? Bears don't have enough problems? What with global warming, pollution, hunters, lack of delicious prey, etc., now they have to worry about people stealing their gallbladders?
The Humane Society of the United States says that a bear gallbladder can cost more than $3,000 in Asia, where some people use the organ for medicinal purposes. "Bear gallbladders and bile are used in traditional medicine to treat a variety of illnesses including fever, liver disease, convulsions, diabetes, and heart disease," HSUS' website states. "Clinical research analyzing the medicinal properties of bear gallbladders indicates that they may be effective for treating a number of ills. However, other natural substances already accepted in traditional medicine, as well as synthetic substances, can be substituted."
But the problem doesn't just affect Asian bears -- and their valuable gallbladders. Here in the U.S. a young bear with a missing gallbladder was found in Virginia's Prince William Park earlier this month.
On 11.18.2010, Park Rangers discovered a yearling bear cub dumped on the park's shared boundary with USMC Quantico. The yearling had its gall bladder removed (there is a black market for bear gall bladders). Park Rangers are working with other state and federal agencies to investigate this crime.
The Humane Society says each of Asia's five species of bears -- brown bear, Asiatic black bear, giant panda, sloth bear and sun bear -- has suffered the effects of hunting for the Chinese medicinal trade, as well as habitat destruction. There is also evidence of increased poaching of America's black and brown bears, as well as Russia's brown bear.
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-- Tony Pierce
Photo: An Asiatic black bear. Credit: J.M. Jabat-Lacana / Photo Researchers Inc.