Bear bile continues to be a hot commodity in Asia.
Front-line poachers aren't likely to get more than $50 or $100 for a bear gallbladder, but the price increases as it makes its way to production and is processed into ointments, powders or liquids. Middlemen usually get about $235 per gallbladder in Canada. When processed and smuggled to Asia, however, the products from one gallbladder can sell for as much as $45,000.
In countries such as China, Korea and Vietnam, demand is so great that there are now bear farms, where the animals are kept in tiny cages with tubes stuck into their gallbladders to drain the bile. Yet, ironically, the farms have made Canadian bears more valuable because people believe bile from wild bears is more potent than bile from farmed bears, said Cliffe.