Last Wednesday the 18th of July in Quebec, a huge network of poachers trafficking the gall bladder from black bears (a highly sought-after product in the Asian continent for its supposed medicinal properties) has been disbanded, the authorities of this Canadian province have declared.
An organised team
According to a statement published by the Quebecois Minister of Forestry, Fauna and Parks, this well-oiled team managed to resell several hundreds of gall bladders from black bears in less than three years.
Yet, the sale of this organ is strictly forbidden in Canada since the enactment of a law in 1998.
The majority of raids took place close to the Saguenay-Lac-Saint-Jean region, an area particularly rich in wildlife, situated around 300 miles north-east of the city of Montreal.
The demand for black bears’ bile is so great in Asia that this trafficking even happens in another continent…
Hunters among the people stopped!
On the black market in Quebec, a gall bladder of these great plantigrades can total up to 300 Canadian dollars (which equals around £170). But abroad, this sum rockets.
In all, around sixty poachers have been stopped. Among them were trappers, sellers but also, no surprise, hunters.
All three groups will soon have to face 121 counts and they are liable to fines which could total 325,000 Canadian dollars (£187,900).
An ongoing investigation
This is the biggest breakthrough on Canadian territory since 2002, and this network of criminals reached as far as the region of Montreal, where the investigation is still ongoing.
In Quebec, naturalists estimate that the total population of black bears is around 70,000 individuals, but the species remains threatened by hunters, poachers and the destruction of their natural environment. The demand in Asia for bile can only make the situation worse for the species.