Bears starved to death in Vietnam as captors claim bile ban took away income

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Two bears die at Nong Trang Bear Farm in Quang Ninh Province's Ha Long City on January 29, 2014. Photo credit: Lao Dong

The number of bears dying of starvation at private bile farms in northern Vietnam is increasing but local authorities are still indecisive in dealing with the issue, local media reported. 
Two more bears died Wednesday at Nong Trang Bear Farm in Ha Long City, the capital city of Quang Ninh, bringing the total number of bear deaths in the province in the past year to 108, according to Lao Dong newspaper. 
Nguyen Trong Bo, the farm owner, used to have 20 bears but there are only 11 left. 
Bo said he paid VND80 million (US$3,748) for each of them. 
He claimed he did not have money to feed the bears after the provincial government banned private bear farms from extracting bear bile to sell to tourists in May 2014. 
Another farm owner said local authorities have not ever discussed with farm owners about financial support for them after the ban. 
Pham Thuy Trinh of Hong Kong-based animal welfare group Animals Asia Foundation said the NGO is not allowed to negotiate financial support with farm owners in exchange for the bears. 

A captive bear in Ha Long City. Photo credit: Lao Dong
“We can only consider supporting the farm owners based on the proposals of local government,” she said. 
According to the Quang Ninh Forest Protection Department, most of the bears in Quang Ninh suffer from serious malnutrition and health deterioration. And they are rather old, between 15 and 20 years of age. 
Mac Van Xuyen, deputy head of the department, said all of the bears at private farms in Quang Ninh have been microchipped; therefore they are all legal and the department could not just take them away. 
He also said there are no regulations on how much bears have to be fed, so authorities cannot intervene when the bears are malnourished either. 
It is estimated that there are 51 bears left at private farms in Quang Ninh.

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