A woman has been convicted and fined for illegally importing bear bile into New Zealand, the first person to be convicted for the offence, the Department of Conservation says.
Litao Xu was sentenced in the Auckland District Court on Tuesday 3 March. DOC says that in April 2018, Xu brought twelve vials of bear bile crystals into New Zealand from China and failed to declare them.
Customs officers located the vials, which forensic testing proved to be Asiatic black bear bile. This species is protected under the Convention on the International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES).
DOC says it took Xu to court and she pleaded guilty to a charge of illegal import under the Trade in Endangered Species Act 1989 in September 2019. She was has now been convicted of trading in a threatened species without a permit and fined $7,500 and ordered to pay court costs.
Judge Blackie described the illegal trade in bear bile as a serious issue that threatens the survival of bears in the wild. He said New Zealand had recognised the need to combat the illegal trade in threatened species by passing the Trade in Endangered Species Act 1989.
"I want to send a clear message to others who might consider importing bear bile into New Zealand, that in future occasions following this case, they may well be facing sentences of imprisonment,” Judge Blackie stated.