|2008.03.07 23:13||2008.03.07 23:13 | Eco-system Conservation|
Right now, 1,600 bears are in captivity in over 110 private and public owned farms in Korea. Among them, 1,400 farmed bears are for proliferation and 198 bears are for exhibition. Those kept for proliferation are the bears to collect their biles in the end.
Bear farming industry in Korea was first started in early 1980 as the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry recommended and permitted the farmers to have their bear farms for promoting household income. However, the import of bears was overly prohibited due to the public opinions concerning bear protection in July, 1985. Until that time, 493 bears had been imported from Japan and North America and the number has been increased naturally to 1,400 today. The bears could be slaughtered and used as medically processed products and other bear bile products legally by simply submitting a document for changing the purpose of bear usage.
As the import of bears was totally banned in 1985, already imported bears began to be under the control of the Korea Forest Service according to the Act Relating to the Protection of Birds, Mammals & Hunting. The Article 51, Paragraph 3(concerning old bears' management) of the regulation enforcements was applied for establishing a standard in slaughtering bears and trading bear parts. Since May, 1999, the protection works about birds and mammals were transferred to the Ministry of Environment and the Wildlife Protection Act was newly enacted and began to be carried out. The enforcement institution was also changed from the local government offices to the local environmental initiatives and the administrative regulations were also rewritten following the new Wildlife Protection Act. The bear farms and the held bears began to be managed and monitored more systematically and the bear farmers who were having difficulties in their earnings due to the government policies finally found escape as the legal age which the farmers can slaughter bears among who were imported before 1985 was lowered from 24 years to 10 years.
In 1993, Korean government signed the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora(CITES) and since then international trade facilitated within Korea was affected by the international laws. At that time when signed the convention, Korean government made reservation about the regulations on the bear species included in the Appendix II list and musk dears species for three years to make up the measures against possible ripple effects in Korea. The reserved three year was ended on 6th of October, 1996. Along with signing the CITES, the government consolidated the related laws and took actions to stop the smuggle. In June, 1997, the representative of Korea participated the 10th CITES Conference of the Parties held in Zimbabwe and presented resolutions urging international cooperation for bear protection. Also, for the first time in Asia, Korea hosted the Third International Symposium on Trade in Bear Parts in 1999.
The Green Korea United, a NGO in Korea, investigated the traditional pharmaceutical markets in major cities of Seoul, Daegu, and Youngchen and found out that the imported bear galls from China, Russia, and North Korea were still traded illegally. Also, as the law mitigated the age of bears allowed to slaughter to 10 years old, the number of cases presenting the application for repurposing the farmed bears are increasing. As a result, 168 bears were slaughtered and used their organs in 2006 while 50 were slaughtered in 2005.
Recently, the public awareness on the wildlife and the protection of wild animals has been aroused and resulted to the depress of overall self-protection sentiment in Korea. By the way, in other part of the society, new type of pursing personal health by consuming endangered species in abroad is introduced and it is widely known that the wild bears in China, Russia, and other nations are suffering from smuggling due to demands caused by the Koreans who visit those nations to consume wild bears for their health. The bears hold in farms and habited in wild are both severely suffering.
The opinions from the interested parties about bear farming are all different in between protection of wild animals and utilizing of wildlife. The different point of views are ; bears have to be classified as domestic animals as a whole and commercialized ; the government has to buy all kept bears with reasonable prices from the farmers considering the damages which the farmers has been taken for a while ; commercial use of wildlife has to be prohibited for pursuing the bioethics and ensuring the animal welfare ; every animal has to be preserved in line with respect on every living creatures and effort on preserving biological diversity ; and government institution's distorted view that bear farming issue is only a conflict between the environmental organizations and the people in bear farming industry. Due to all those different opinions from each parties, it seems very difficult to find a solution. Where can we find an answer for this problem? One thing is quite clear that the government policy on bear farming was failed. So, the government itself has to keep pace with the present times and find the measures to this problem sooner rather than later.
Alternative Medicine is now actively studied by many people, so it is never impossible to present the alternative synthetic and herbal medicines to bear bile. Also, seeking a countermeasure for bear farmers and local residents who have been damaged economically due to government's inconsistent policies and having a good relationship with those related parties are also necessary. To finish the aftermath of the failed policies, the government has to make a quick decision.