The alternative newspaper The Stranger reports that a Madison Park condo was raided earlier this month by officers looking for evidence that a Japanese man has been illegally hunting bears in Washington in order to obtain their gallbladders for sale in Asia. Bear gallbladder bile is used in traditional Asian medicine as a treatment for intestinal, liver and cardiac illnesses and for many other diseases. The Stranger states that it is prized as a “restorative” (meaning aphrodisiac), but this is disputed by many other sources. What is not in dispute is that bear gallbladders, which are approximately the size of a human thumb, are worth their weight in gold in Asia. This, in spite of the fact that bear bile has now been synthesized by Japanese scientists.
The Stranger, quoting a search-warrant affidavit, says that when the Washington Department of Fish & Wildlife officers raided the condo on June 8 they “confiscated a dozen firearms, four bleached bear skulls, four boxes of processed game meat, several packages of bear paws, assorted frozen bear parts, and four dried bear gallbladders.”
Although the man has not been charged in this case, the affidavit reports that he had been charged with “wildlife crimes” in the past, according to The Stranger. He is reportedly a psychiatrist in his native Japan. For more on this story you may read the paper’s full report here: The Gall.