Prosecutors Charge Madison Park Man for Bear Gall Poaching

A Japanese psychiatrist is facing weapons and illegal hunting charges after a lengthy Department of Fish and Wildlife investigation into bear poaching in Washington.

King County prosecutors have charged Tohru Shigemura with “Alien in Possession of a Firearm Without a License” and unlawful hunting of big game after Washington State Department of Fish and Wildlife investigators found a dozen rifles, shotguns, and handguns and various bear parts—some wrapped up in a freezer—in Shigemura’s Madison Park apartment. Prosecutors say Shigemura does not have a “alien firearms license.”

Authorities believe Shigemura was illegally hunting bears out of season and on tribal lands in order to acquire their gall bladders which, in Asian medicine, are used to treat a number of different ailments, including asthma, liver problems, burns, and even some forms of cancer. Bear bile farms in China produce thousands of kilograms of bile each year, although synthetic alternatives to bear bile are readily available.

I wrote about the WDFW’s investigation of Shigemura here last year.