Yes, there really is a market for bear gallbladders

December 8, 2009

Who knew that there was a black market for bear gallbladders?  Turns out actually a fair number of people.

KASHMIR-WILDLIFE/A North Carolina man, Clement Calhoun, on Tuesday pleaded guilty to illegally selling 51 bear gallbladders from the Cherokee Nation trust lands over nine months in 2005, the Justice Department said.

Cherokee code bars tribal members from selling parts of big animals to anyone beyond the Cherokee Indian trust lands and to anyone who wants to remove the parts from the trust lands, the agency said.

The trade of bear parts is apparently prolific enough that the Humane Society of the United States has issued a Q&A about it, found here. An average-sized gallbladder can sell for $3,400 in Asia, the group said.

In some quarters, the bear gallbladders are used to treat numerous illnesses, including liver disease, fever, diabetes, and convulsions, according to the Humane Society.

The Justice Department said Calhoun put the retail value of the wildlife to be at least $6,600.  As part of his plea agreement, he will publish an apology in a newspaper. He could also face a year in prison and a $200,000 fine.

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Photo credit: Reuters/Fayaz Kabli (bear)

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