Russia regards bears as ‘strategic good’
Federal Security Service of the Russian Federation put forward a proposal of recognizing the bears as a strategically important resource of the country and prepared a draft of a relevant government resolution. The document was published on the federal portal of draft normative legal acts.
“As such strategically important goods and resources, the draft resolution proposes to determine all populations of brown and Himalayan bears, as well as musk deer, taking into account their high demand in illegal foreign markets, which requires the establishment of special legal protection measures,” says the explanatory note.
On June 27, President Vladimir Putin signed the law passed by the State Duma earlier this month on amending this article of the Criminal Code, providing for criminal liability for the smuggling of strategically important goods and resources, including especially valuable wild animals.
According to the document, now “for certain types of strategically important goods and resources determined by the government of the Russian Federation, their value exceeds 100 thousand rubles.”
The draft of this law was submitted to the State Duma in January 2018 by a group of deputies who proposed amendments to the Criminal Code in the field of countering the smuggling of parts and derivatives of wild animals.
Earlier in June, the Prosecutor General’s Office of Russia sent a letter to the government proposing to include brown and Himalayan bears in the Red Book of the Russian Federation. According to the agency, this will help protect the spice from “illegal extermination” for the sake of selling “their parts and derivatives.”
In the letter, the Prosecutor General’s Office referred to official data, according to which “in 2016-2017 the customs authorities of the Trans-Baikal, Primorsky Krai, Amur Region and the Jewish Autonomous Region seized or confiscated 189 paws of bear, 23 of them Himalayan, 122 canines, 54 claws, over 2 kg of bile of a bear in a dried form”.
At the end of last year, the Federal Security department for Transbaikal reported the detention of a local resident, who found 468 bear paws and 37 facial parts of elk heads in his car. This is the largest batch of animal derivatives seized in recent years, noted in the special services.
According to the department, the “goods” were intended for resale to Chinese citizens and smuggling to China. “To get such a number of bear paws and elk heads, the poachers had to kill more than 150 animals.
The letter of the Prosecutor General’s Office also included information from the Ministry of Natural Resources of the Russian Federation on the reduction in the number of brown bears in Russia from 225.1 thousand individuals in 2015 to 143.7 thousand in 2017. “Despite the significant decrease in the number of brown bears, the limit of its permitted production is increasing every year,” the supervisory agency noted.
Bear gallbladder, liver, bile and testicles are prized in Chinese medicine, mostly as aphrodisiacs. A gall bladder can fetch up to $3000. Most bear parts are smuggled into China, Taiwan, and Korea from the Russia, Canada and Alaska (U.S.).
Bear meat is valued by Chinese as sexual-performance and health booster. A bowl of bear paw soup—prized delicacy at restaurants in China, Hong and Taiwan sells for hundreds of dollars.
Live animals are also highly praised in China for ‘bear banquet’. The bear is tortured to death in front of the diners. They enjoy the process explaining it makes the meat taste better. the coast of the bear banquet starts from $10 000, depending on size of the animal to be consumed, conservationists report.