South Korean government to consider ending bear farming

Update June 2011: We understand that the Bill is now scheduled to be discussed in the coming months. In the meantime please do show your support by signing the petition.

Following the tabling of a bill on 15 September by National Assembly member Hong Heedeok, the South Korean Parliament began the process that could result in the phase out of South Korea’s bear farming industry. 
 
Chris Gee, manager of WSPA’s programme to end Bear Farming said, ‘This is a historic opportunity for South Korea to adopt a policy to end bear farming. Since 2005 WSPA have worked in partnership with Green Korea United (GKU) to raise awareness of bears’ suffering, build public support, promote the alternatives to bear bile and lobby decision makers within South Korea. The world is willing South Korea to do the right thing by bringing this cruel and unnecessary industry to an end as soon as possible.’

The bill is now expected to be considered by the Environment and Labour Committee as well as other relevant Ministries. Subject to securing enough support, this process could see South Korea putting a policy in place to end bear farming by the end of 2010.

Bear farming is cruel

Over 1,400 bears are currently held on South Korean bear farms, in horrific captive conditions, to be slaughtered for their bile. Because the extraction of bile from live bears has been illegal in South Korea since the early 1990s, bears are instead raised to be slaughtered for their bile when they reach 10 years old. Under present South Korean law, this industry is still legal.

The captive conditions have a terrible impact on the physical and psychological wellbeing of the bears. WSPA staff have witnessed South Korean bears rocking and pacing in their small cages, and seen the severe wounds, sores and stress the caged conditions cause.

Bear farming is unnecessary

© GKU

Academics, experts and Traditional Asian Medicine advocates in South Korea and around the world agree that there are many readily available herbal and synthetic alternatives to bear bile. Even South Korean bear farmers themselves are prepared to consider a phase out as they acknowledge their farms are losing money.

In 2006, the South Korean Ministry of Environment (MoE) informally requested WSPA and member society GKU to research workable ways to phase out the practice of bear farming. WSPA and GKU consulted with a range of stakeholders and experts, ensuring they examined the issue comprehensively. In addition, GKU has been working closely with the government to refine the options open to them.

Thousands of South Koreans have joined GKU campaigns, and in the last four weeks over 85,000 WSPA supporters around the world have signed up to support an end to this industry.

Many thanks to everyone who took action and showed their support for a bear-farming phase out in South Korea. If you haven’t yet had a chance to complete the action there is still time for you to make a positive difference.

Please visit WSPA’s South Korea supporter action.

We will continue to keep you updated on progress. As South Korea prepares to celebrate its Thanksgiving Day next week, we also give thanks to the South Korean government for tackling this issue head-on.

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