Black Bears are now a hot topic in Asia and in other places where they are hunted for their organs. They have been hunted for many years, specifically for their gall bladders. This has caused the bears to be pushed to the brink of extinction in some areas of the world. In addition to the poaching threat, Black Bears are now being farmed. One place that Black Bears can be found in quantity is in Alaska.
The Asiatic Black Bear is indigenous to areas of the Middle East all the way across to Japan. They are small and aren’t usually a threat to other animals or humans. Typically they eat nuts and fruit. There is an identifying white mark on their chest. As in other bears, the male is larger than the female and they hibernate in winter. The Asiatic Black Bear will bear its young while in hibernation and emerge in the spring with usually two cubs. More than two cubs can be born to a single mother but two is the most common amount. As the demand for the Bear’s bile produced from their gall bladders increases, the population in the wild has decreased dramatically. This has given rise the the “bear farms”. The condition of the farms and treatment of the bears is horrid. Many people and governments have issued a ban on the use of the bile and outlawed the procedures used to extract the bile. This hasn’t stopped the black market though.
The bear “bile” is light green or yellow and traditional Chinese practitioners recommend it for helping with poor eyesight, gall stones and rheumatism. None of these claims have been proved. Many of the Black Bear parts have been used medicinally for thousands of years. Lately, of course, it has been the gall bladder that people want most. It is the gall bladder bile that is used in treatment of some cancers, bad burns and various illnesses.
In the late 1980’s U.S. officials noticed a rash of Black Bear carcasses that were missing their claws, paws and gall bladders. It took quite some time before it was found out that American Black Bears were being systematically killed to meet the demand for the body parts and organs in Asia.
This was an alarming discovery since Black Bears are prolific throughout the United States and are found in abundance in Alaska. Since Black Bears are known to be forest bears it is understandable that they live in vast quantities in most of Alaska. Alaska is mostly uninhabited and has large amounts of forested land. The state of Alaska is known for being very a conservationist state and protecting its wildlife. Alaskans would not like to see the Black Bear population being hunted for its organs. We must stay vigilante to protect these majestic beasts from predators of this nature. It is illegal to hunt bear in Alaska without a license or a guide. However, if the demand for Black Bear bile continues to rise Alaska may find herself in the unenviable position of having to fight off poachers. Legislation will not be a strong enough measure.
Author unknown, http://www.arktofile.net/pages/why_e.html, Why Gall and Bile?
Author unknown, http://www.konicaminolta.com/kids/animals/library/field/asiatic-black-bear.html, Endangered Animals
Author unknown, http://www1.american.edu/TED/bear.htm, Bear Case Study
Loyal Johnson, http://www.adfg.state.ak.us/pubs/notebook/biggame/blkbear.php, Alaska Department of Fish and Game