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June 19, 2012

The Humane Society of the United States and Born Free USA Praise Hawaii Governor for Signing Bear Bile Prohibition into Law

Retailers informed that new ban is in effect

Born Free USA

The Humane Society of the United States, on behalf of its more than 50,000 members and supporters across Hawaii, and Born Free USA thanked Gov. Neil Abercrombie for signing House Bill 2296, prohibiting the sale of possession of bear bile, gallbladder and other bear parts, into law earlier this week. The bill was sponsored in the House by Rep. Jessica Wooley, D-Laie, Hauula, Punaluu, Kahana, Kaaawa, Waikane, Kahaluu, Ahuimanu, Kaneohe, and in the Senate by Sen. Clayton Hee, D-Kahuku, La'ie, Ka'a'awa, Kane'ohe.

Bear bile and bear gallbladder products have been found for sale in Honolulu. The HSUS and Born Free USA sent a letter in English and Chinese to Honolulu retailers this week advising them of this new law and urging their cooperation in discontinuing the sale or offering of such products.

The new law prohibits the buying, selling, transport, delivery, offering for sale or transportation, or receiving for transportation in commerce, any bear gallbladders or bile, or any product, item, or substance containing, labeled, or advertised as containing bear gallbladders or bile. Furthermore, the law also prohibits the possession of any bear gallbladders or bile, or any product, item, or substance containing, labeled, or advertised as containing bear gallbladders or bile. Penalties include fines of up to $1,000, imprisonment up to one year or both.

“Animal welfare continues to be a priority for several members in the Hawaii Legislature and this bill represents the latest example,” said Sen. Hee. “I am honored to play a small role in moving Hawaii forward in addressing cruelty to animals not only here, but everywhere.”

"I was pleased to have sponsored this important legislation to protect bears and end Hawaii's role in the unnecessary and cruel trade in their parts," said Rep. Wooley.

“Thanks to Governor Abercrombie and lawmakers, Hawaii will no longer contribute to the market for bear parts and the needless killing of endangered bear species,” said Inga Gibson, Hawaii state director for The HSUS. “The Humane Society of the United States will be glad to see retailers, business owners and Chinese Medicine Practitioners chose synthetic ‘cruelty-free’ alternatives.”

“Hawaii was one of only five states that lacked comprehensive legislation to limit the trade in bear parts. Overexploitation of wildlife through national and global trade is a major concern,” said Adam Roberts, executive vice president of Born Free USA. “Thanks to the leadership of Senator Hee and Representative Wooley, an important bill to combat what continues to be one of the most dangerous threats to bears on the mainland, has passed. This signals a strong step toward protecting bears on a global level.”

Although bears are not native to Hawaii, the demand for bear viscera and parts across the United States and in other countries drives bear poaching, the trade in bear parts and ultimately puts endangered bear species at great risk. As a result, wild American bears and highly endangered Asian bears are slaughtered for their gallbladders and bile, which are consumed domestically or exported illegally. 

Asiatic black bears are entombed in coffin-like cages in China and elsewhere in Asia, where they are cruelly caged and milked for their bile with a steel catheter. When the bears outlive their productive bile-producing years, they are slaughtered and harvested for their other parts.

*Translated press release available upon request.

Media Contact: Stephanie Twining, 240-751-3943, stwining@humanesociety.org

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