Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Poachers killing black bears in Great Lakes region; the animal is a delicacy in some Asian cultures

Overseas demand for black bear organs has led to poaching in the Great Lakes region. Four people were arrested in Michigan in August for illegally purchasing and selling black bear parts, Courtney Bourgoin reports for Great Lakes Echo, a project of the journalism department at Michigan State University. The Michigan House was expected to vote this week on stricter bear poaching bills. (National Park Service photo by Neal Herbert)

"The World Wildlife Fund says that bile from bear gallbladders provides an active ingredient for traditional medicines used in Asian cultures," Bourgoin writes. "Those who follow the practices believe it aids colds, inflammation and liver-related diseases." Bear paw soup is also "a cultural delicacy in countries like China, North Korea, South Korea and Japan."

Michigan United Conservation Clubs, a coalition of outdoor groups, is pushing for stricter punishment and "supports state legislation to increase restitution to the state from $1,500 to $2,000 per animal," Bourgoin writes. "Hunting license suspensions would increase from three to five years under bills sponsored by Sens. Phil Pavlov (R-St. Clair Township) and Dale Zorn (R-Ida.)." (Read more)

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