Alberta to ban spear hunting after bear video sparks outrage

AP News
Posted: Aug 16, 2016 2:03 PM

CALGARY, Alberta (AP) — The Alberta provincial government plans to ban the practice of spearing wildlife after a video posted online showing an American killing a black bear with a spear sparked outrage.

The video was posted in June on the YouTube account of Josh Bowmar, who runs an Ohio-based fitness company, and shows him killing the bear on a hunt in northern Alberta. By the time it was removed from public view on Monday it had garnered more than 208,000 views.

The 13-minute video shows Bowmar launching a spear — with a camera attached — at a bear from 11 to 14 meters (36 to 46 feet) away and captures his jubilant reaction when the animal is hit. Commenters on YouTube were livid.

Alberta Environment and Parks spokesman Tim Chamberlin on Monday night called spear hunting an "archaic" practice and said authorities will introduce a ban on spear hunting this fall.

"Work is well underway to update Alberta's hunting regulations. We will introduce a ban on spear hunting this fall as part of those updated regulations," he said in an emailed statement. "'In the meantime, we have asked Fish and Wildlife officers to investigate this incident to determine if charges are warranted under existing laws."

A year ago, an American killed a lion in Zimbabwe in what authorities said was an illegal hunt, infuriating people worldwide and invigorating an international campaign against trophy hunting in Africa. The death unleashed an extraordinary outpouring of anger at Walter Palmer, the American dentist who shot the lion, and other foreigners with means who have traveled to Africa to kill wildlife.

Bowmar said he was surprised by the reaction to his video. He said spears have been used for hunting since the "dawn of man" and the notion that the method is inhumane "couldn't be further from the truth."

He said the spear blade he used was 13 centimeters (5 inches) wide and about 40 centimeters (16 inches) long and penetrated the bear more than 60 centimeters (23.6 inches) deep.

"The bear I speared only ran 55 meters (180 feet) and died immediately, that's as humane and ethical as one could get in a hunting situation on big game animals. Trust me, no one cares more about these animals than us hunters, especially me," he said in the emailed statement. He added that if he just wanted to kill, he could have shot the bear from half a kilometer (one-third of a mile)away without it having a chance to escape.

"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?"