Authorities in the Canadian province of Alberta have vowed to ban spear hunting and are weighing whether to lay charges against an American hunter after a video surfaced showing him killing a black bear with a spear.
The video – one of several hunting videos posted to the YouTube account of Josh Bowmar – shows Bowmar holding a long spear with a GoPro camera attached to it as a mature bear repeatedly approaches a bait bin set up to lure it to the site.
After the bear nears for the third time, Bowmar, a college javelin champion and Ohio-based fitness trainer, launches the spear. He falls to his knees in excitement as he realises he struck the bear. “He’s going down. I drilled him perfect. That was the longest throw I thought I could ever make,” he tells the camera. “I just did something I don’t think anybody in the entire world has ever done and that was spear a bear on the ground on film. And I smoked him.”
His delight continues as he finds the spear, cast off by the bear as it ran into the woods, and examines the blood marks on it. “Oh yeah, I got mad penetration,” he says. “These things are absolute lethal killing machines.”
The video was seen more than 200,000 times before its setting was changed to private on Monday.
The Alberta environment ministry described the spear hunt seen in the video as “archaic” and “unacceptable”.
A ban on spear hunting will be introduced this fall as part of an update to the province’s hunting regulations, a spokesperson for the ministry said in a statement. “In the meantime, we have asked Fish and Wildlife officers to investigate this incident to determine if charges are warranted under existing laws.”
The video credits Alberta-based outfitters John and Jenn Rivet for organising the hunt. They did not respond to a request for comment.
In an email to the Guardian, Bowmar defended the use of a spear to hunt. “First and foremost, spear hunting gives the animal the greatest chance of escape, considering our ethical killing range is within 10 yards.”
The spear used in the hunt is five inches wide, 16 inches long and razor-sharp, he said, much bigger than the typical arrow used in bow hunting, which is also legal in Alberta. “Statistically speaking, one would argue a spear is more of an ethical, humane weapon to hunt with than a bow,” Bowmar said.
Wayne Pacelle, chief executive of the Humane Society, said that Bowmar is a “sociopath” and criticized him for baiting and killing the bear during spring, when female bears are nurturing cubs.
“What was also shocking was the breathless celebration of the hunter, acting as if he had really gotten somewhere in life and achieved something no one had done before,” Pacelle said.
“He’s probably right – very few people have ever engaged in depravity and evil quite like he did.”
Last year nearly 20% of big-game hunters in the province purchased archery hunting permits, according to government figures reported by Reuters.
The video also showed Bowmar returning to the site to retrieve the bear the next morning. He found it some 60 yards away from where it was struck, its internal organs spilling out of a gaping wound on its side.
“The bear I speared only ran 60 yards and died immediately, that’s as humane and ethical as one could get in a hunting situation on big-game animals,” said Bowmar, who noted that every part of the bear was used and its meat was eaten. “If I didn’t care about the humane killing of this bear, why did I spend years preparing and practicing, becoming extremely proficient with a spear to make sure I could harvest this bear ethically?”
This article was first published by The Guardian on 16 Aug 2016.
We invite you to share your opinion whether spear hunting of bears should be banned? Please vote and leave your comments at the bottom of this page:
Thank you for voting.