Thursday, 9 June 2016

Young bear killed in California may have been mutilated for its body parts

Black bear ‘yearling’ was mutilated by the side of the road in California, possibly for his paws and gall bladder, which could sell for upwards of a thousand dollars

Nicky Woolf in San Francisco

Friday 3 June 201620.04 BSTLast modified on Friday 3 June 201621.55 BST

A young bear killed by a vehicle on a California road this week was found by highway maintenance workers to have been mutilated, possibly so that parts of it could be sold on the black market, according to officials.

The bear had injuries consistent with being hit by a car in the early hours of Thursday morning, not shot or poisoned, according to Andrew Hughan, an information officer for the California department of fish and wildlife, who said the black bear, the only species in California, was a “yearling” at two years old and 150 pounds – “something like a teenager”.

However, Hughan said that when the game warden arrived on the scene to retrieve the carcass he discovered that “the paws had been cut off and the gall bladder had been removed, which is pretty disheartening”.

The gall bladders of bears especially can sell for upwards of a thousand dollars on the black market, Hughan said, as many “in the Asian community” think it has medical or aphrodisiac powers, while the paws are often cooked and eaten.

In East Asia, bears are often kept in captivity and farmed for their gall bladders and bile inside, often in battery-farm conditions. It has been estimated that as many as 12,000 bears are farmed this way across the region, despite there being no medically recognised effects of the bile whatsoever.

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