Booker, Kennedy Introduce Legislation to Combat Abuse of Bears
WASHINGTON, D.C. — U.S. Senators Cory Booker (D-NJ) and John Kennedy (R-LA), today introduced the Bear Protection Act, which would protect bears from poaching and torture and prohibit the import, export, possession, transport and sale of bear organs.
“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 parts traders.”
“For years, legal loopholes have supported 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,” Senator Kennedy said.
Bears are often targeted for their bile and gallbladders, which some believe have medicinal value. A majority of states have already passed laws addressing trafficking in bear parts; however, federal protections are still needed to address discrepancies in state laws. This bipartisan legislation would do just that by imposing criminal penalties on anyone who imports or exports bear viscera or products said to contain bear viscera.
The bill would also direct the U.S. Secretary of Commerce and the U.S. Trade Representative to continue discussions with countries that are part of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES), as well as countries that are not, who have been identified as leading importers, exporters or consumers of bear viscera. These coordinated efforts will protect bears from poaching and illegally harvesting their organs.