Today in northeastern Washington, state attorneys will try a man accused of buying gall bladders that were taken from bears. Authorities say the organs are popular items on the black market. The practice of buying and selling bear parts is illegal in Washington, as Inland Northwest Correspondent Doug Nadvornick reports.
William Page is charged with six counts of unlawful trafficking in wildlife. Prosecutors say Page operates a meat cutting business in the town of Curlew, Washington. Mike Cenci is the deputy director of the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife's enforcement division. He says Page bought several bear gall bladders from undercover agents who visited his business.
Mike Cenci: "Our belief is that this individual's purchase of bear galls has nothing to do with personal consumption."
Cenci says the organs are harvested here and exported to Asian countries, where people buy them, hoping to cure disease and help with sexual performance. He says the state allows hunters to shoot bears for their personal use, but not to sell their parts.
Mike Cenci: "So, I mean, it boils down to whether a population can sustain commercialization or not and we don't believe that our population would sustain that."
The trial in the town of Republic is scheduled to last three days.
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