Senators Unveil Legislation to Crack Down on Bear Poaching

'Poaching bears to harvest their organs is cruel, and it’s destroying bear populations,' said Sen. John Kennedy, R-La., one of the bill's sponsors

Polar bears
Andre and Anita Gilden / Barcrof via Getty Images

A pair of senators introduced legislation Tuesday that seeks to curb the poaching of bears in order to conserve their populations globally.

The Bear Poaching Elimination Act, sponsored by Sens. John Kennedy, R-La., and Tammy Duckworth, D-Ill., would ban the importation, exportation and interstate trade of certain internal organs poached from eight species of bears such as brown bears, black bears and polar bears. Similar legislation has been unveiled in Congress in previous years.

The bill says that federal and state undercover operations have “revealed that American bears have been poached for their viscera,” which is body fluid like bile or internal organs like the gallbladder.

Thousands of bears are kept in cages on farms in places like China, Vietnam, Laos and Myanmar to extract their bile, according to National Geographic. Extracted bear bile has been used in traditional Asian medicines, according to the World Society for the Protection of Animals, such as being used to “treat kidney problems and stomach and digestive disorders.” The organization said that more recently, bear bile has been added to products like shampoo and wine.

Read the full story at NBCNews.com.

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