continuing trade in bear parts is just a
blueprint for extinction of the species.
Poaching of black bears for their parts clearly
reveals a deep spiritual malaise in our society.
Gall bladders are dried and added as crushed
powder in combination with other body parts or
herbs and are used in at least 55 traditional
Asian medicines. Considered a delicacy, bear paw
soup is an off-the-menu dish in Oriental
restaurants, both in Asia and abroad. Bear
penises are harvested for their reputed
aphrodisiac. The leading importer of bear parts
is Japan, where they are processed for export to
other Asian countries. The bear gallbladder is
up to 18 times more valuable than heroin, making
it possibly the most valuable organic commodity
in the world. The known record price for a
single top-grade gall is $64,000. As long as
gall bladders are worth more than gold to Asian
businessmen, bear populations around the world
will continue to decline; and the fewer the
bears, the more valuable their parts, with
prices soaring according to supply and demand.
black bears' biggest enemies are lax provincial
laws and their inadequate enforcement. Black
bears are listed on Appendix II of the
Convention on the International Trade on
Endangered Species (CITES), a step away from the
"endangered" status of Appendix I.
This measure is meant to curb the Asian trade in
bear parts by removing a look-alike loophole
that allows traders to claim their bear parts
were taken from North American, legally-killed
bears. But this listing, and provincial
legislation banning possession of gall bladders
and other parts, is not enough to save the
species from hungry foreign markets. Out of
control poaching poses an even more serious
threat than sports hunting. Ten years from
now, there won't be any bears left .
B.C., first-time offenders can receive a $5,000
fine per count, yet that does not deter crime
because the profits offer much more in reward
than the fines. Federal experts estimate more
than 3,500 bears are killed by poachers every
year for their gall bladders. Our society has
not developed a culture or system of ethics with
which to understand the concept of extinction.
The disappearance of a form of life from this
planet, a product of over four billion years of
organic evolution vanishes due to the ignorant
practices of a few hundred years. If the demise
of the black bear continues, we will likely
follow it down the path to extinction.