New York Doesn't Want to Be a Bear-Poaching Mecca

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Until recently, the state of New York state has been a leading destination for those who wanted to poach bears and sell their parts, but thanks to a new law this year, which NPR explored on Tuesday morning, that's now illegal. Still, there's money to be made on bears.

You can hunt a black bear in New York, provided you have a permit and confine yourself to killing just one per season. And there's actually no law against selling a legal animal's organs. The law drafted by New York Senator Mark Grisanti "does allow a hunter with a valid hunting permit to kill the bear and do what they see fit," Grisanti's legislative director Joe Erdman told The Atlantic Wire. But if you're caught with bear gallbladder or bile, and no documentation showing you had a permit to kill the bear, it's a $5,000 fine. So why would one risk poaching, and how much could you get from a bear legally?

Well, there's actually a huge market for bear parts, in particular the gallbladder and bile, which are used in traditional Asian medicine and cooking. NPR's Brian Mann wrote, "Gall bladders are harvested all over the world — and black bears are actually farmed for their parts in China and other areas in Asia. Bear gall is used in traditional Asian medicine to treat a variety of ailments, and bear paws are prized for Chinese soup."

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Last May Adam Roberts, the executive vice president of wildlife advocacy group Born Free USA, said, "A gallbladder can fetch hundreds of dollars at the initial point of sale and thousands of dollars later on," according to Gothamist. At Asian markets in New York, Mann reported, "parts from a single animal can be worth up to $1,000." That makes it pretty attractive to poach, but the hope is that now a fine's in place not just for hunters but for sellers, the financial motive will shift toward legal hunting.

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.