By Rhishja Cota-Larson
Forest officials have arrested five suspects in connection with the killing of six bears in the Indian state of Uttarakhand. Four of the bears were killed in Garhwal and two in Kumaon region, according to the Hindustan Times. The five suspects were arrested in two separate raids, and the bear gallbladders, along with other body parts, were confiscated.
Pramjeet Singh of Kumaon forestry department said his teams would be on the lookout for wildlife traffickers.
Recovery of the bear body parts indicates that poachers are active in the state. I have asked my special patrolling teams to be on guard. More arms will be provided to our staff soon.
Sadly, bear gallbladders are in demand because the bile is still used in traditional Chinese medicine — although there is absolutely no reason to use “ingredients” sourced from bears.
The active ingredient in bear bile, ursodeoxycholic acid (UDCA), is available as a synthetic and there are at least 50 herbal alternatives to bear bile.
In the U.S., Hawaii recently passed a law that prohibits the “purchase, sale, transportation and delivery of any item containing bear bile or gallbladders.”