The World Society for the Protection of Animals (WSPA) recently asked supporters to petition New York Governor Andrew Cuomo to sign an amendment to the New York Environmental Conservation Law that would help stop the commercial trade of bear gallbladders and bile. The proposed law would, in turn, protect New York’s 7,000 wild black bears from being poached for the bear parts trade.
We’re happy to announce that — as a result of the approximately 15,000 supporters who signed the petition — the Governor signed the bill into law on August 18!
Bear bile, extracted from the animal’s gallbladder, is used in some traditional Asian medicine and is thought to treat fever, swelling and pain associated with various conditions. Since commercial trade of gallbladder and bile was legal in New York, this encouraged poaching of bears specifically for those parts. Despite the many humane synthetic and herbal alternatives to bear bile identified and promoted by WSPA, completely unnecessary commercial trade was occurring in New York — putting black bears in the state at risk.
Here are some highlights of the new law:
- – It sets in place highly restricting measures and prohibits commercial trade unless the gallbladder bile is associated with a legal hunting tag. New York hunters are only permitted to hunt one bear per year, which reduces trade to one gallbladder/bile product per year as well.
- – It sets fines for violations up to $5,000, which is a significant penalty for a wildlife crime.
- – It requires taxidermists to provide detailed registries of any traded gallbladders/bile to the Department of Environmental Conservation, which can be used as valuable evidence by law enforcement when prosecuting perpetrators.
Although not a complete ban as the original bill proposed, this is still a major improvement in the state’s wildlife protection laws when compared to the previous lack of restrictions. Prior to this law, New York was a haven for bear gallbladder/bile poachers because of the previous lack of restrictions. We are extremely pleased with New York’s efforts to enhance bear protection and grateful to all the supporters who signed the petition!