(Reuters) - Four Michigan residents have been charged with buying and selling black bear parts, which are used for medicinal purposes in Asia, officials said on Tuesday.
The complaint came from data gathered from informants, and the arrests were the result of a multi-year investigation, according to the Michigan Department of Natural Resources.
"There is a black market for black bear parts in Asia," DNR Detective Lieutenant Jason Haines said in a statement. People trying to buy the parts create an incentive for poachers to take the animals during closed seasons, by unlawful means and in excess of established limits, Haines said.
Charged with two misdemeanors each were Tuan Hoa Pham, 52, and Hoa Trung Huynh, 51, both of Kentwood, and Hoang Linh-Duy Tran, 45, of Wyoming, Michigan. They are in Kent County Jail and will appear for a pretrial hearing Aug. 27, the DNR said.
Hieu Van Hoang, 45, of Sault Ste. Marie, is at the Chippewa County Jail, where he was already being detained on a felony charge of attempting to murder his wife. He has a hearing scheduled on five wildlife misdemeanor charges on Aug. 18.
Each count carries a fine of up to $1,000 and 90 days in jail, plus $1,500 reimbursement for each animal illegally purchased, according to the DNR statement.
(Reporting by Mary Wisniewski; Editing by Eric Walsh)