Virginia Resident Pleads Guilty to Trafficking Bear Gallbladders

Bear gallbladders are in high demand for traditional Chinese medicine.

A prison sentence and hefty fines could be in store for Virginia resident Tracy Davis, who plead guilty to trafficking bear gallbladders, as well as to several other federal charges, in a U.S. District Court.

Davis was baiting and trapping bears in George Washington National Forest and selling their gallbladders on the black market.

Court documents show that Davis “discussed his activities in the illegal trapping, baiting and harvesting of black bear” with the undercover agent and gave the agent three black bear gallbladders to “re-sell for $2,000”.

Davis plead guilty to several other federal offenses including the possession of protected migratory birds, the sale of fighting gamecocks, and the distribution of marijuana.

According to the U.S. Department of Justice, Davis faces maximum possible penalties of:

  • Up to five years in prison and/or a fine of up to $20,000 for the charge related to selling black bear parts
  • Up to six months in prison and/or a fine of up to $15,000 for possessing the talons of a Red-Tailed hawk
  • Up to five years in prison and/or a fine of up to $250,000 for selling fighting roosters
  • Up to one year in prison and/or a fine of up to $100,000 for the marijuana charge

During the investigation, the undercover agent also observed “several dogs and horses that had ribcages showing through flesh and bloated stomachs from apparent starvation” and in November 2011, more than 100 animals were rescued from the Davis residence. Davis and his wife Joyce were found guilty of animal cruelty.

Davis is currently serving a 90-day sentence for four counts of manufacturing alcohol — “operation of a moonshine still” — on his property.

Image by Jim Martin via Wikimedia Commons



Rhishja Cota-Larson

I am the founder of Annamiticus, and I work as an independent Wildlife Trade and Communication Design Consultant. I have journeyed to the streets of Hanoi to research the illegal wildlife trade, and to the rainforests of Sumatra and Java to document the world’s rarest rhinos. I am a Co-Chair of the SSN Pangolin Working Group. At CITES meetings, I collaborate with colleagues from around the world to lobby in favor of protecting endangered species. I am a Wildlife Trade and Trafficking Consultant for the upcoming documentary The Price, the host of Behind the Schemes and author of the book Murder, Myths & Medicine. I enjoy desert gardening, herping, reading, designing, and walking with my dogs.