Security personnel at the Vancouver airport discovered a grisly cache when they scanned a B.C. man’s carry-on luggage. The 39-year-old man had tucked three foil-wrapped, black bear paws into his case for his flight to China.
According to the Vancouver Sun, the Canadian Border Service Agency detained him and called the RCMP, who turned the case over to B.C. Conservation. The man was released until his court appearance on October 6th.
If convicted, the man faces a maximum of a two-year sentence and $250,000 fine under the B.C. Wildlife Act. Additional penalties of up to six months and a $25,000 fine can be applied under the federal Wild Animal and Protection and Regulation of International and Interprovincial Trade Act.
In spite of crackdowns on illegal trade, bear paws continue to be in demand as a high-priced culinary delicacy and an ingredient in traditional medicine in China. According to the Great Bear Foundation, in the past 25 years of law enforcement, “The paws or gall bladders from scores of both black bears and grizzlies removed from the bodies of both adults and cubs were seized. The paws are used for bear paw soup, which is a highly prized Asian delicacy. One bowl of it may cost the patron one thousand dollars or more. Some connoisseurs believe the flesh of the right paw actually tastes sweeter, since they believe that bears favour using their right forepaw to scoop out honey from the hive with it, and then lick the sweet liquid off the pads.”
As long as there is a market for bear parts, the trade will continue. In addition to the poaching of wild bears, thousands are “farmed” for their bile and then, when they no longer produce enough, are slaughtered for their parts.
Sign the petition below to call on China to keep the Gui Zhen Tang Pharmaceutical Corporation, which farms bears for their bile, from inclusion on the Shenzhen Stock Exchange.
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Photo courtesy of U.S. Forest Service Region 5
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