June 12, 2007 10:14 ET

Illegal bear trade in Canada fueled by China's bear farms

WSPA partners with Environment Canada to help stem trafficking

Attention: Assignment Editor, Environment Editor, News Editor, Science Editor, Government/Political Affairs Editor TORONTO, ONTARIO, MEDIA RELEASE--(Marketwire - June 12, 2007) - Products containing bear bile are being illegally imported and sold in Canada, according to a new report by the World Society for the Protection of Animals (WSPA). Investigations by WSPA show that bear farms in China are a primary source, and WSPA has teamed up with Environment Canada's Wildlife Enforcement Directorate to test detection kits that will help to stem this illegal bear trade.

Cage to Consumer, a new WSPA report being released today, summarizes findings from the undercover investigations conducted in 2006. The report shows that Traditional Asian Medicine shops in eight countries - Canada, USA, Japan, Taiwan, Korea, Singapore, Australia and New Zealand - offered bear bile and bear gall products for sale and that most of these products originated from China's bear farms.

"WSPA's investigations confirm what we suspected" says Peter Davies, Director General of WSPA. "These results show that bear farms are giving rise to illegal trade as well as being inherently cruel. In light of this evidence we urge the Chinese Government to reconsider its position on bear farming and instigate a phase-out of the bear farming industry in China."

As part of its on-going campaign to end the cruel practice of farming bears, WSPA developed a unique kit to detect bear proteins in products. The bear detection kits are being field-tested over a six to twelve-month period by Environment Canada's Wildlife Enforcement Directorate and will help identify and stamp out the illegal trade in bear products.

"WSPA developed the detection kits to protect bears and help combat the multi-billion dollar illegal trade in wildlife" says Pat Tohill, WSPA Canada Programs Manager. "It's estimated that wildlife trade ranks behind arms and drug trafficking, and trade in bear products directly causes suffering to bears and threatens wild bears in Canada and abroad."

The kits fall into a wider effort to stem wildlife trafficking recently launched by the Canadian government. In May 2007, Environment Minister John Baird announced that Canada would join the Coalition Against Wildlife Trafficking (CAWT), a US-led international alliance of government and non-government organizations. The government says $22 million will be used to hire about additional 100 enforcement officers to crack down on wildlife trafficking and poaching.

WSPA released the Cage to Consumer report today at the 14th Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) conference in The Hague
where international delegates are meeting on trade in endangered species. WSPA released the report at the CITES convention to highlight the importance of CITES regulations to protect bears and other endangered species.

Bear bile and bear gall have long been used by consumers of Traditional Asian Medicine. Since the 1980s bile has been extracted from live bears kept on bear farms to create such products. Today, at least 12,000 bears in China, Korea and Vietnam are kept in appalling conditions, in cages no bigger than a telephone booth turned on its side, while subjected to painful bile extraction procedures. The extraction of bile is unnecessary as there are many effective alternatives that can be used in place of bear bile.

WSPA's campaign to end bear farming, which is supported by the Calvin Ayre Foundation, will continue until the inherently cruel practice of bear farming is brought to an end. To find out more visit
/For further information: For interviews, information, contact:
Michelle Cliffe, Marketing and Public Relations Advisor
416 369 0044 x111

Patrick Tohill, Program Manager, Canada
416 369 0044

Contact Information

  • Michelle Cliffe, Marketing and Public Relations Advisor, World Society for the Protection of Animals
    Primary Phone: 416-369-0044 ext. 111
    Toll-Free: 800-363-9772