WASHINGTON — Sens. John Kennedy (R-La.) and Cory Booker (D-N.J.) introduced the Bear Protection Act to protect bears from poaching and torture.
“For years, legal loopholes have allowed the abuse and trade of wild bears to continue. I’m proud to partner with my friend Senator Booker to help prevent the slaughter and sale of innocent creatures through a commonsense solution,” said Kennedy.
“North American black bears are under threat from poachers and smugglers who supply the global trade in bear parts and products,” Senator Booker said. “This bipartisan legislation will help to conserve bears, deter bear poaching, and facilitate prosecution of illegal bear traders.”
Bears are often targeted for their bile and gallbladders, which some believe have medicinal value. The bill would impose criminal penalties on anyone who imports or exports bear viscera or products said to contain bear viscera. The legislation would not otherwise affect the state regulation of bear populations or the lawful hunting of bears under state law.
The bill would also direct the Secretary of Commerce and the U.S. Trade Representative to continue discussions with certain countries in order to protect bears. These countries include those that are party to the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora as well as other countries that are leading importers, exporters or consumers of bear viscera.
“We shouldn’t be killing rhinos for their horns, elephants for their tusks, or bears for their bladders,” said Wayne Pacelle, founder of Animal Wellness Action. “Wildlife trafficking is one of the greatest threats to rare species throughout the world, and the Bear Protection Act is a lever to protect several species of bears from reckless and unwarranted commerce in their parts. We are immensely grateful to Senators Kennedy and Booker for leading this legislative initiative.”