NY Bill to Slow Trade in Bear Body Parts Goes to Gov

Update June 21, 2011A.B. 6291A/S.B. 3858-B has passed the new York state Assembly and the Senate! The bill now goes to Gov. Andrew Cuomo for his signature.   

Tracy Coppola, an attorney with Born Free USA, explained, "The final version of the bill prohibits possessing, bartering, selling or offering to sell or barter bear gallbladders/bile unless the gallbladder or bile also is attached to a valid bear hunting tag.

"Possession of bear gallbladder/bile without a tag is evidence of a violation and is punishable with a minimum $5,000 fine. Because only one bear may be legally hunted a year, lawful hunters are limited to trade only one bear gallbladder/bile product each year. Anyone without a lawfully acquired tag will be fully prohibited from participating in the trade and prosecuted. Compared with the previous lack of any restriction, this is an improvement."

Coppola continued, "We also fought hard for the inclusion of a provision that requires taxidermists to keep detailed registries of gallbladders/bile trade and to provide those records annually to the Department of Environmental Conservation.

"These requirements will help law enforcement officers track movement of bear parts and prosecute unscrupulous profiteers. And it will help us track the bear parts trade within the state." 

For more on this practice and the bill’s history, read Animal Law Coalition’s report below.

Original report: Though illegal in most states, the trade in bear gallbladders and bile or derivative products, is still legal in New York. Assembly Member Linda Rosenthal and state Sen. Mark Grisanti hope to change that with A.B. 6291 /S.B. 3858.

Under this bill, it would be illegal in New York "to possess, sell or barter, offer to sell or barter, purchase, transport, deliver, or receive, bear gallbladders, bile", or derivatives or products including them. There would be a minimum $1,000 fine per violation.

The commercial trade in bear gallbladders and bile threatens bear populations not only in New York, but worldwide. Poachers killing bears for gallbladders and bile in states where it is illegal are hard to catch: the poachers simply claim they got the gallbladders and bile in New York. New York has become a laundering center for illegally obtained bear gallbladders and bile.

For more information, find a fact sheet attached below as well as a letter Animal Law Coalition has submitted to New York legislators in support of the bill.