Clamp down on illegally breeding bile bears in South Korea
Together with Green Korea United (GKU), World Animal Protection lobbied the South Korean government to amend the Wildlife Protection and Management Act to introduce stricter penalties for aggravated (repeated) wildlife offences, including illegally breeding bears for their bile
A farmer who has continuously bred bears illegally for their bile in South Korea was arrested in October 2021 and detained under South Korea’s revised Wildlife Protection Management Act for illegal breeding and obstructing the execution of official duties.
Over the past six years, the farmer has illegally bred 37 bears, 11 of whom died due to the terrible conditions they were born into. An initial court hearing was held in November to hear the charge against the farmer in question. The trial is ongoing, and the farmer remains detained in prison.
Together with Green Korea United (GKU), World Animal Protection lobbied the South Korean government to amend the Wildlife Protection and Management Act to introduce stricter penalties for aggravated (repeated) wildlife offences, including illegally breeding bears for their bile. The Amendment Bill was passed in late April last year, which will hopefully serve to strengthen enforcement in South Korea.
Maya Pastakia, World Animal Protection’s International Campaign Manager, Wildlife. Not Medicine campaign said:
“We are elated that the authorities have taken action under the amended law and call on the government to ensure that the illegal breeder is promptly prosecuted and punished to the maximum extent of the law.
"This will send a clear signal to other farmers that illegal breeding of bears will be punished and is not profitable – and that cruelty is unacceptable.”
World Animal Protection, in partnership with GKU, has been working in South Korea for almost 20 years to end the bear bile industry. As a result of pressure by World Animal Protection and GKU to end the cruel bear bile industry, the government carried out a sterilisation programme and sterilised a total of 967 captive bile bears between 2014-2017. The sterilisation marks the end of the bear bile industry as no future generation of cubs will be raised for their bile.
Eunjeong Park, GKU’s Green Life Team leader said:
“GKU urges the court to enforce the amended Wildlife Protection and Management Act which was passed at the Korean National Assembly early last year with reinforced punishments for illegal breeding.
“Moreover, it is time for the government to produce a plan to finally put an end to the cruel bear bile farming industry in Korea."
Together with Green Korea United, World Animal Protection is urging the South Korean government to continue to monitor all captive bears on farms so that new bears are not born into the cruel bear bile industry, and to accelerate efforts to build a high-welfare animal shelter to house all illegally bred bears and produce a roadmap to end bear bile farming once and for all.
Four organisations initially came together to ensure that the bears on the farmer’s farms were being properly taken care of. They include: Green Korea United, Korean Animal Welfare Association (KAWA), Korean Animal Rights Advocates (KARA) and Project Moon Bear. The bears are now under the care of the local municipality and Han River Regional Environmental Office due to safety reasons. Bears from these farms have frequently escaped endangering local residents.
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