A couple exposed by the Mirror after spearing a bear to death have avoided jail, despite being part of one of America’s largest poaching rings.
But bodybuilders Josh Bowmar, 32, and wife Sarah, 33, were ordered to pay £108,000 in fines, forfeits of items and restitution by a judge.
The sick couple were also sentenced to three years of probation and given 40 hours of community service.
They were among a group of people charged with embarking on dozens of illegal game-hunting excursions via a Nebraska-based outfitter between September 2015 and November 2017.
Last October, the Bowmars pleaded guilty at a district court in Lincoln, Nebraska, to a conspiracy charge.
In exchange, four other more serious ones involving illegal baiting were dropped. The Bowmars made global headlines in 2016 after the Mirror reported how they killed a giant black bear with a homemade spear, leaving it to die an excruciating death over a day.
Vile Josh even fitted his seven-foot weapon with a Go Pro camera to capture the beast’s agony in its final moments.
Fellow hunters branded the sickening slaughter “disgusting”.
The killer, a former All-American javelin thrower at university, is seen almost crying with pleasure.
As the animal runs for its life he boasted: “I just did something that I don’t think anybody in the world has ever done.” Josh and his guides found the butchered animal the following day. He was snapped posing triumphantly over it’s lifeless body, with his spear in hand.
According to court papers, the Bowmars pursued white-tailed deer, wild turkeys and other animals without a valid license and by using bait.
The indictment states they employed numerous bait sites to “maximise their hunting effectiveness and success rate” or “attempt to kill a specific trophy deer”. After their kills, the couple would post footage of their ill-gotten trophies on their YouTube and Instagram pages.
In one of the disturbing clips from January. 5, 2017, Josh, can be seen killing a white-tailed deer with an arrow.
He later describes how “its frickin’ antlers” fell off after he shot it.
According to the indictment, the Bowmars took the dead animals to Ohio and elsewhere. That was in breach of the Lacey Act, which prohibits “trafficking in fish, wildlife, or plants that are illegally taken, possessed, transported, or sold”.
In what is being described as the largest poaching case in Nebraska history, 39 people have convicted and hit with fines of more than £600,000.
Following the Mirror’s story, American sportswear giant Under Armour cut all ties with the Bowmars and Sarah was ditched as a brand ambassador.
At the same time, Canada banned using spears to kill wildlife.
This article by Christopher Bucktin was first published by The Mirror on 19 January 2023. Lead Image: Bowmar and body of bear he butchered (Image: YouTube).
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