Less than 24 hours after the news broke, the government of Alberta has spoken out about the depravity of the sick, self-filming, and unrepentant Josh Bowmar, the Ohio man who killed a bear with a homemade spear at a bait site in this western province of Canada.
“The type of archaic hunting seen in the recently posted video… is unacceptable,” Alberta’s Ministry of Environment and Parks said in response to the controversy. “We will introduce a ban on spear hunting this fall.” The department also ordered fish and wildlife officers to see if any charges can be laid under already existing laws.
The blade that Bowmar attached to his spear was 13 centimeters wide and 40 centimeters long. That’s over five inches wide and over a foot long (about 16 inches). It was the equivalent of being hit with a flying ax.
The day before, Bowmar’s wife wounded a bear with a crossbow, and didn’t find the bear until the next day. Who knows how many hours that creature suffered. Neither bear deserved this treatment from these two people. If they did this to a dog or a horse, they’d be in jail for animal cruelty. Let’s hope the authorities are able to bring a case against the two.
There is malice in the world—people with not an ounce of compassion and the ability and desire to inflict great pain. It’s sickening to know that this couple celebrated their cruelty and documented it on a GoPro so they could enjoy it, replaying the experience and getting some sort of warped kick from it.
I am very glad that Alberta’s government is planning on banning spearing as a method of trophy hunting. Certainly it is a method more ethically minded hunters abhor. While they’re at it, officials should end baiting of bears and other animals like wolves and coyotes—a deeply unethical activity that involves luring hungry animals with food and shooting them when they are exposed and vulnerable, unaware of the lurking threat. It’s not allowed for waterfowl hunting and it’s banned in most states and provinces for deer, elk, and moose hunting. It’s a relic of yesteryear to allow this method for predator hunting. And it’s the only way that Bowmar could get close enough to a bear to slay the animal with a spear.
In fact, it’s probably a good time for Alberta to listen to the public on the broader issue of trophy hunting—killing animals as a head-hunting exercise. Polling shows Canadians are deeply opposed to it, including the overwhelming majority of Albertans. It’s not enough that we as a society—and our governments—respond to the latest cases of cruelty and prevent its most appalling forms from recurring. We must get ahead of the larger, fundamental problem and lift our sights and establish a new normal when it comes to our treatment of wildlife. Shooting them for bragging rights and wall mounts is a practice that cannot stand the test of time and is inconsistent with the values of a society that gives regard to animals.