The black bear of Quebec is likely to be the target of poachers who sell its gall bladder to the price of gold, since the chinese authorities have recommended to use his bile as a remedy against the COVID-19.
The national Board of health, which is part of the chinese government, has advocated on its web site this spring using the Tan Re Qing, a drug-based bear bile to treat severe cases of coronavirus.
This recommendation was echoed even in our forests. Ottawa and Quebec have confirmed to our Office of investigation to be well aware of the situation.
“The Protection of wildlife of Quebec, declared a priority service for public health, has remained very vigilant on this aspect during the pandemic,” says the spokesperson for the ministry of Forests, Wildlife and Parks in Québec (MFFP), Sylvain Carrier.
Bear bile is used in traditional chinese medicine for thousands of years. No study has demonstrated its effectiveness against the COVID-19. The possession and trade of vesicles of bears is prohibited in Québec.
During the period of hunting of bears that ended this week in Quebec, the agents have not found significant changes, but they will keep the eye open during the next hunting season this fall.
“Is that [the chinese statement] will increase the demand for bile and the poaching here in North America ? It is too early to tell, ” says the director-general on the implementation of the wildlife act, Sheldon Jordan.
Vesicles bile that would have different benefits, according to the traditional chinese medicine.
One thing is for certain, Québec and Ottawa take the situation seriously because of the poaching networks existed among us long before the COVID-19.
“Montreal and Quebec are a hub of various products in the market of international smuggling, but more particularly to the vesicles in bile bear “, explains Jonathan Campagna, regional director of the application of the wildlife act to Environment Canada.
For example, in July 2018, a smuggling network involving 64 people of the North Shore up in Laval, passing through the Lac-Saint-Jean has been dismantled. A hundred vesicles in bile were to be exported to the asian market.
“Most of the poaching and trafficking of vesicles in bile are to supply the markets in North America,” says, however, Mr. Jordan.
Products that bile can easily be found in Canada in stores asian medicine, indicates the organization World Animal Protection. Our bureau of investigation has also found that it is possible to buy on the internet.
“[The gallbladder] could sell for $ 250 on the black market. But abroad, it can be up to $ 10,000, ” said Mr. Campagna. According to our intelligence service, a kilo of bile in a foreign country may sell up to $ 200,000. It is very popular. “
– With the collaboration of Sara Daoust-Braun
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Popular in traditional medicine
Why bear bile is used ?
It contains acid urso-desoxycholique (ursidiol), the active ingredient used in chinese medicine to treat health problems such as liver disorders, fever, inflammation, kidney stones or gallstones, epilepsy, or the hemorrhoids.
Is this scientifically proven ?
A 2009 study published in the Journal of Ethnobiology and Ethnomedicine cites the effectiveness of bear bile to treat the problems like stones in the liver. However, some claims that the bile will heal cancer have not been proven. The organization World Animal Protection does not deny some benefits, but insists on the fact that there are synthetic substitutes and plant-based.
How the bile is extracted ?
The bear is killed and its gall bladder removed and dried before being processed into a powder or in capsules. Since the 1980s, farms of bears have appeared in Asia. A tube is installed in the gall bladder of bears in captivity in order to collect directly its bile without the kill. World Animal Protection has denounced the cruel practice. The organization receives approximately 24 000 bears in captivity in this kind of farm.
Why our bears are the object of poaching if there are farms in Asia ?
The bear population of asians is in decline, and here she is doing well. As the farms are very controversial, more and more countries ban, including Vietnam. The bears hunted here are mostly intended for the black market in north america. Many also believe that the bile of a wild bear is better quality than that of animals in captivity.
Hundreds of offences
For the past three years, the officers of the wildlife protection of Quebec have produced 341 offence reports relating to the poaching of black bears, but the department indicates that its data are incomplete.