Dead bear's gallbladder removed in possible Tahoe poaching case
State wildlife officials are investigating a possible poaching case in which someone removed the gallbladder of a black bear -- which can sell for thousands of dollars in Asia -- after the animal was struck and killed this week by a car in the Lake Tahoe area. The Times' Jia-Rui Chong reports:
The animal was found with its groin area shaved and gallbladder missing early Tuesday, less than 10 hours after a motorist reported striking the bear and California Highway Patrol officers moved it off the roadway. A surgical glove was discovered next to the bear's mutilated carcass.
"It appears that someone knew what they were doing," said Capt. Mark Lucero of the Department of Fish and Game's Northern Enforcement District.
It is illegal to take parts of dead wildlife left on the side of the road, Lucero said.
"A second violation would be if the gall was marketed on the black market," he added.
The penalty for trafficking in bear parts, a felony, is a $10,000 fine and a minimum six months to one year in prison.
The discovery of the missing organ was at least the third instance since May involving bear parts in the state, Chong reports.
On July 28, Fish and Game officials found a bear paw with some claws removed in an illegal marijuana grove in Tulare County. In May, a bag of severed black bear paws turned up on the doorstep of a home in Riverside.
Officials were not sure if they were intended to be sold, eaten or kept as trophies. An investigation determined the bears had been hunted legally, and there was no proof that anyone had tried to sell the parts.
-- Francisco Vara-Orta
Photo: BEAR League