International trade in bears and their parts is regulated under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) because of the negative effect of gallbladder trade on bear populations. Although a significant number of bear gallbladders seems to come from the roughly 2,000 individuals killed annually as game and nuisance of the 2 species of bears (Ursus thibetanus and U. arctos) in Japan, information about the trade and usage remains obscure due to the lack of a system to regulate trade in bear parts such as gallbladders and meat. Most Japanese bear populations are considered to be at a sufficient level to sustain hunting if well-managed; however, nuisance bear control kills are not properly conducted due to inadequate management systems and regulations. Governmental organizations have not participated directly in nuisance bear control but depend on private hunters in exchange for allowing them to keep bear parts from nuisance kills. However, it will become difficult to continue depending on private hunters due to their aging and the decline in their numbers. This situation will require a new nuisance bear management system. We outline a framework for a management system for the domestic trade in gall derived from wild bears in Japan. Such a system would use the profits from bear gall trade to partially cover the cost of bear management activities, including damage prevention.
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Vol. 19 • No. 2