Alberta says it will ban spearing as a hunting method as global furor grows over bear killing

By on August 16, 2016 with 22 Comments By Wayne Pacelle

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.

Wildlife/Marine Mammals

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  1. Annoula Wylderich says:

    I guess the level of depravity is revealing when even sportsmen have denounced this incident.

  2. Mary Finelli says:

    “Neither bear deserved this treatment from these two people.”

    No one deserves such savagery from anyone. Spearfishing should also be banned, along with hunting and fishing in general.

    • Hunter says:

      Mary you need to get informed about the benefits of hunting and fishing before you make such an ignorant and informed statement! If you choose not to educated yourself you might be best served to refrain from commenting on outdoor matters and stay in the city. Leave the outdoors to the outdoorsmen and women that work and contribute millions to the management of our wild areas. Continual commenting makes you look foolish.

      • Peter says:

        “Management” and “conservation” mean killing through programs that ensure sustainable levels of target species for the hunters to use (kill). The comment that you object to, “No one [animals] deserves such savagery from anyone” is a fair statement, that does not make the poster “ignorant” and “uninformed.”

  3. vibeke hansen says:

    danich: jeg fatter ikke at man kan skyde dyr–:-(((-hvad sjovt er der i det ???—- menneskene ( ikke alle ) har en brist, når de går på jagt grrr–lad dyrene leve og nyde dem, uden at bringe uorden i naturen. Alle dyr har vi brug for, men ikke de smilene jæger, forstå naturens dyr, uden våben—- men jægerne har jeg ALDRIG forstået, :-(((( stop mord på vores dyr–menneskene har fandme været de ondeste mod dem :-((( naturen har altid klaret sig, uden de 2 benede.

  4. Joanna says:

    Hunting is not a sport, it’s cold blooded murdering for displaced self satisfaction. Please make this to stop retroactively.

  5. Joanna says:

    Hunting is not a sport, it’s barbaric to deprive an animal of life. It’s done for displaced self satisfaction and achievement of superiority over voulnerable animal without protection.

    • Hunter says:

      I assume you are a vegetarian or vegan? You have no clue about hunting so how can you comment on it? How much do you contribute to protect our wildlife and wild areas…nothing? That’s what we thought.

      • margie anne says:

        Hunter :

        Kindly address the method to kill this bear- a spear. Then address the pathology involved in filming and viewing the horror.

        That you are not disgusted by this mans actions makes you unqualified to offer any advice on conservation

  6. David Bernazani says:

    They should quickly ban it here in the US also, before some clown decides to be a copycat.

  7. Barbara G. says:

    There is something wrong with people that would even think of doing this then watch it over and over at home. They must really get a charge out of watching an animal die says lot about their mental state.You can imagine how many animals they practiced on here in the U.S. before they went to Canada.

  8. Françoise says:

    Toute chasse doit être interdite définitivement. Il y en a marre de voir ces pauvres êtres, qui ne demandent qu’à vivre, être décimés par des humains (si on peut les appeler comme ça) sans coeur.

  9. Susan Brady says:

    Very sad. Respect al life. The things that happen to these poor defenseless animals is horrible and Inhumane. Sick people in this world. We should not have to continue to plea and demand justice and safety for all animals. We all have a place in this world. Stop all animal killing.

  10. Briar Lee Mitchell, EdD says:

    The term Sportsman is a lie…there is nothing “sporting” about hunting an animal with a weapon whether it is a gun, bow or what this piece of filth did, with a spear.

  11. Sally Palmer says:

    As Wayne Pacelle points out time and time again, all of our compassion has to add up to enough actions to make animal cruelty a well-known crime with a punishment that validates it as a real crime. Although we’ve seen numerous lawmakers push aside justice for many hideous crimes to serve their own self-interests, we have seen through The HSUS that it makes a difference slowly but surely to keep fighting these horrors.

    • Hunter says:

      Uninformed advocacy doesn’t go very far. Educate yourself on the benefits of hunting and fishing before you continue on your endeavor! It will save you some frustration! Vehicles kill hundreds of thousands of animals a year…we should also ban them! Oh you probably wouldn’t support that…

      • margie anne says:


        Cars kill animals. They also run over people. Should we then, by your logic, allow the hunting of small children because cars kill some of then anyway?

        Interesting logic.

      • Edyth C Jackson says:

        So Hunter please explain Hunting and Fishing to me?
        Fish live in water, where people go into their environment to catch, kill, and eat them, right? Who take care of fish babies now?
        Hunting – animals live in woods where men come in there environment, cut down trees to build highways, houses, communities, businesses, etc plus hunters come to kill animals for sportmanship? Give me a break, hunter’s bait animals to kill them in their environment. That is like someone coming to someone house and doing people harm who live in their own house minding their own business and who cares about their family? Animals have family and children but who cares about that sportsmanship ego need to be satisfied and you call this sportmanship? It isn’t even a fair fight. Majority of time the killer of animal not even eating the meat. Display animal in cabin, take videos, pictures, or display where they live. God made humans and animals to co-exist on planet earth together. When sportsmanship finish killing all the animals what you going to kill next humans? Freedom of Speech is allowed in USA, just like you gave your opinion, others are allowed the same.

  12. margie anne says:

    I am vehemently opposed tosport hunting. While this story is shocking to many, unfortunately, its not that far removed from the horror inflicted on deer and other wildlife with bow and arrow hunting. Often animals are critically injured, never caught, and left to die slow, agonizing deaths in the woods.

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