The impact of Bear Bile Farming on Conservation of Wild Bears

Most of the land converted for human use is involved in agriculture and what primitive man took from the wild we now cultivate ourselves. So it seems reasonable to suggest that if there are goods which are currently still only available in the wild then a farmed alternative would displace the wild product in the market. Such an outcome would be particularly welcome in instances where the wild populations are seriously threatened by the trade.

Unfortunately there are potential flaws in this logic. This project aimed to: outline the potential obstacles to the displacement of a wild good with a farmed good in markets for conservation; and then investigated these obstacles in the case of bear bile farming. Our research findings were published in PLOS One in 2011.

The controversial farming of bears for their bile began in Korea in the 1980s.

YouTube video here.

This work was funded by the World Society for the Protection of Animals.


Dutton, A. J., Hepburn, C., & Macdonald, D. W. (2011). A stated preference investigation into the Chinese demand for farmed vs. wild bear bile. PLoS One6(7), e21243.