Note: This post has been updated since it was first posted to ensure factual accuracy.
Thousands of black bears are held captive in Asia’s bile-farming industry. In a recent move that is bringing more attention to the issue, the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) has passed a motion calling for an end to this cruel practice.
Specifically, the new IUCN motion:
- Calls for countries to close down bear bile farms
- Urges China to cap the growth of the industry
- Requests the development of independent scientific evidence to assess the impact of bear farming on wild bear populations
- Encourages the governments of Korea and Vietnam to continue their efforts to eradicate bear farming
Endangered Asiatic black bears, also called “Moon Bears,” are prized for their gall bladders and bear bile which are used in traditional medicine. The bears are taken from the wild and confined to extremely small “crush cages.” A catheter is painfully inserted into their gall bladders to extract their bile twice a day. Bears often bang their heads against their cages in frustration, or even starve themselves in an attempt to escape the torture.
A 2011 report by TRAFFIC found bear bile extraction facilities to be a major source of illegal products entering the international market from Asia. The trade in bear bile is in violation of national laws and the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES). With their vote, the IUCN has formally recognized the practice of bear farming as being intolerable. While the IUCN motion is not legally enforceable, it is a step in the right direction that helps shine a light on this cruel, exploitative industry.
Care2 members have previously taken action to oppose the bear bile industry. Care2 will continue to share news on progress being made on this issue with the hope that we can one day end bear farming worldwide.