Hunting, legal and illegal, is one of the biggest threats to the world's bears. Bears are hunted for entertainment or for their body parts, which are used in traditional medicine or eaten as "delicacies" in some parts of the world. The United States and China are two of the world's largest suppliers of illegal, bear-derived products. In the United States, approximately 21,000 black bears and 1,100 brown bears were killed by human hunters in 1989.1

Bile Farming
Bile farming is a practice in East Asia in which bile is leached from the bodies of bears, especially the Asiatic black bear. The bile, which is used in traditional medicine, is taken from the gallbladder via tubes inserted into the body or permanent holes bored into the abdomen. An estimated 12,800 bears are currently being kept in farms in China, Vietnam, and South Korea. Most are endangered Asiatic black bears—less than 20,000 are estimated to remain in the wild.2

  1. U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, 1989
  2. Humane Society of the United States