COVID-19, Bear Bile, and the Bear Act

by | Apr 14, 2020

“We’ve got to leave behind the whole set of archaic, inhumane practices where we treat wildlife as potluck or potion, as textiles or trinkets in the making. The COVID-19 crisis is an air-siren to be heard and heeded throughout the world, including for the protection of wildlife” – Wayne Pacelle

As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to affect daily life across the world, it has given rise to another issue around the use of animals for human gain. For years, bear bile, collected from bears held in containment, has been touted as a cure for many ailments. It is no different in the wake of COVID-19, as some tout bear bile as a potential cure for the symptoms of this latest version of the Coronavirus. This unproven, anecdotal-based determination has festered and spread, and given rise to an uptick in current bear bile collection practices not only in countries like China, but also within the United States.

Because of this, Senate Bill 3196, The Bear Protection Act of 2020, was introduced in Congress on January 15, 2020. The purpose of the bill is “[t]o conserve global bear populations by prohibiting the importation, exportation, and interstate trade of bear viscera and items, products, or substances containing, or labeled or advertised as containing, bear viscera, and for other purposes.”  The Act covers many different species of bears, some of which have been decimated by these practices both here in the US and abroad. The purpose of the act includes the prohibition of interstate and international trade in bear products, the encouragement of efforts across all lines to eliminate the trade, and ensuring that Federal legislation is enacted to contain and/or eliminate the trade of products containing bear viscera. This Act is just a drop in the bucket in stemming the tide of the use of animals in so-called holistic cures that have thus far shown no proven efficacy regarding the claims made.

What Can You Do?

While Congress is on leave during this time, convening virtually for legislation regarding the response to the pandemic, you can still contact your member of Congress to voice your support for the Act, and even encourage him or her to sign on to co-sponsor the bill. You can also educate your friends and family about this Act and ask them to take action as well.


Aimee Douglass is the Director of Compassionate Living. Aimee works in the healthcare industry and has a bachelors degree in Creative Writing from the University of Pittsburgh at Johnstown and a masters degree in Communications with a health care focus from Southern New Hampshire University.

Abhi Nadendla is a blogger at HAP and has been volunteering at the organization since late 2022. She is a student at the University of Pittsburgh and loves spending her free time helping out at animal shelters.

Hannah Lewis is a grant writer and blogger from Pittsburgh’s North Side who has been with HAP since 2020. In addition to writing and advocating for animals, she enjoys hiking, cooking plant-based meals, bouldering at her local climbing gym, and curling up with a good book and her long-haired cat, Freyja.

Kelly Frantz has recently joined the HAP family as a blog writer. She is passionate about animal protection and is excited to educate the community about animal welfare.