If you were to go face to face with a poacher and tell them to “get a real job”, unfortunately, you’d be snickered at and they’d be out the next day doing what they feel they do best.
At least there’s satisfaction in knowing many law-abiding hunters and anglers are mutually sickened by the whole thought of poaching and we can do our part to help combat it.
The following story teams up an Ontarian with 4 Saskatchewanians. After a two-and-a-half-year joint investigation between the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry and the Saskatchewan Ministry of Environment, 5 individuals have been convicted for unlawfully trafficking in wildlife parts.
They were dealing in bear gallbladders.
Often an easy target, poachers have no open or closed season. These ruthless criminals will stalk, kill and extract body parts while at the animal’s most vulnerable times.
ABOUT BEAR GALLBLADDERS
Bear are the only mammals that produce significant amounts of the bile called Tauro Ursodeoxycholic Acid (UDCA). Bear bile comes from the liver but is stored in the gallbladder. This bile is highly sought after for traditional Chinese medicine. Some alleged uses include:
- treatment for intestinal, liver and cardiac illnesses
- parasite and bacterial infections
- poison antidotes
- antihypertensive and anti-coughing agents
- skin rashes
- burns and fever
- prevent swelling
This list makes bear gallbladders an extremely valuable commodity to some. And often, unscrupulous people don’t care how they obtain it. Poaching is one of those methods. The equally disgusting side of poaching is, people don’t care how bile is obtained, they just want to purchase it.
It’s a lose-lose situation.
Here’s a rough idea as to the location of a bear’s gallbladder. As you can see, it is extremely small in the scope of the entire bear’s body.
WHAT ARE BEAR GALLBLADDERS WORTH?
Asiatic Black Bear gallbladders are worth much more than North American Black Bears. Apparently, the bile from the Asiatic can be worth up to 18 times the price of gold in the retail markets of Asia. As well, the Asian bears have larger gallbladders (60 grams compared to an above-average 25-30-gram North American Black Bear).
It is said that in South Korea, bear gallbladders have brought more than $10,000 US. Although this is extreme, some recent investigations have stated that in China, “real” whole bear gall bladders were found for sale in the range of from US$1 to US$9 per gram. Still profitable when sold in size and quantity.
BACK TO THIS STORY: CRIMINAL CHARGES AND FINES
The following are the people convicted, with their charges and fines:
- Shun Ji Xue of Toronto convicted of unlawfully possessing black bear gall bladders, fined $3,250.
- Li Gen Han of Sandy Bay Saskatchewan was convicted of seven counts and fined $23,800
- Luanshun Li of Sandy Bay Saskatchewan was convicted of three counts and fined $8,400
- Marcel Sewap of Sandy Bay Saskatchewan was convicted of one count and fined $2,800
- Launhua Chi of Saskatoon Saskatchewan was convicted of seven counts and fined $29,120
Here’s the full bear story
IS THIS ENOUGH PUNISHMENT?
Many will feel (as per usual) that this is just a slap on the wrist for the convicted. The lowest fine at $2800, can and more than likely will be recouped in a single illegal exchange.
As well, a five-year suspension from purchasing hunting licenses was given to each person.
They probably don’t hunt to begin with, so not much of a punishing blow.
NOT JUST ONTARIO AND SASKATCHEWAN
Bear gallbladder poaching is happening throughout all of Canada. In 2016-2018, a poaching ring based out of Saguenay–Lac-Saint-Jean, Mauricie, Laval and Quebec’s North Shore had slaughtered more than 100 black bears. Gallbladders were the alleged intentions.
On Quebec’s black market, a bear’s gallbladder can sell for up to $250.
POACHING IS A WORLDWIDE PROBLEM
Tens of thousands of elephants are being killed every year for their ivory tusks. The ivory is often carved into ornaments and jewelry. This raw ivory often brings in between 1,000 – 2,000 + dollars per kilogram.
It is said that a rhino is still killed by poachers every 10 hours. A rhino horn can bring in 50,000 to 60,000+ dollars.
Tigers are poached for their skins, bones, teeth, claws, tails and even their whiskers.
Shark fins are harvested for the use in soup. It’s called shark finning, which takes only the fins and discards the carcass, alive or dead! There is even a market for their teeth.
Turtles are killed for tortoiseshell jewelry, glasses, ornaments, instruments,and other items
It’s obvious that poachers have no feelings or compassion when it comes to animals’ lives. They are ruthless and will stop at nothing to make the almighty dollar.
To see more about worldwide poaching, go here.
WE CAN DO SOMETHING
Wildlife poaching is big business (tens of billions of dollars annually) that is run by dangerous international networks. It’s much the same as illegal drugs and guns.
Although most reading this will never encounter poachers if by chance you do, make the effort to call your local authorities and do your part. A sense of self-satisfaction will be worth it.
WHO TO CALL
Saskatchewan: 1-800-667-7561, #5555
British Columbia: 1-877-952-7277
Nova Scotia: 1-800-565-2224
Quebec: 1 800 463-2191
New Brunswick: 1-800-222-TIPS (8477)
North West Territories: 1-866-762-2437
Nunavut: (867) 975-4642
For fishing violations please check this page as well.