Two Pennsylvania Couples Charged with Trafficking Bear Gallbladders

As Asian bear populations dwindle, wildlife traffickers are increasingly turning to North American bears for a supply of gallbladders, paws, and other parts. Photo: Steve Hillebrand/USFWS

The Pennsylvania Game Commission has reportedly charged Hung Quoc Pham, Van Thi Do, Bruce Dinh Le, and Tuyet “Amy” Le with illegally buying bear gallbladders and paws.

During the course of an investigation spanning from November 2011 to July 2012, the suspects purchased bear gallbladders, bear paws, bear meat, and a porcupine from an undercover agent, according to PennLive.com.

Meetings and transactions took place at Nail Care in Marysville with Hung Quoc Pham and Van Thi Do (“Bill” and “Wendy”), and also at the Nail Touch Salon in Lemoyne with Bruce Dinh Le and Tuyet “Amy” Le.

The investigation was initiated by a tip alerting the Game Commission to suspicious wildlife-related activities at Nail Care.

Most bear populations in Asia have already been decimated by the use of bear bile in traditional Chinese medicine and the consumption of bear paws. Wildlife traffickers are increasingly turning to North American bears for a supply of gallbladders, paws and other parts.

It is important to note that there is absolutely no reason to use “ingredients” sourced from bears. The active ingredient in bear bile, ursodeoxycholic acid (UDCA), is available as a synthetic and there are at least 50 herbal alternatives to bear bile.

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Photo: Steve Hillebrand/USFWS

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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.

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