Ohio trophy hunter’s appalling conduct reminds us why the law must speak

By on August 15, 2016 with 37 Comments By Wayne Pacelle

I’ve been devoted to animal protection for 30 years, and while I’ve seen extraordinary cases of heroism and sacrifice, I’ve also seen so many unconscionable acts of cruelty—so much pain and disregard for the value of life. While I often think I’ve seen everything, there are times when I see a level and expression of malice that I’ve not witnessed ever before.

That’s the reaction I had when I watched an American trophy hunter, from Columbus, Ohio, engage in a stunningly unethical trophy hunt for a black bear in Alberta—a three-faceted act of evil. Josh Bowmar, 26, baited the animal, even though baiting is widely frowned upon by any self-respecting hunter as unfair and is outlawed for bear hunting in the vast majority of U.S. states. He conducted the hunt during the spring, when mothers are nursing dependent cubs; if the hunter shoots a lactating mother, the trophy hunter dooms the entire family group. And worst of all—and the distinguishing feature of this incident—the hunter used a homemade seven-foot-long spear to impale this poor creature, who was just trying to get a snack at the bait site.

The worst part of the spectacle, which Bowmar and his wife recorded as some sort of audio-visual memento—in part by attaching a GoPro camera to his homemade spear—was the awful scream of the bear. But 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. He’s probably right—very few people have ever engaged in depravity and evil quite like he did. He’s so deeply disconnected from the suffering of an innocent creature that he felt free to yell and prance with joy as the life was spilling out of this innocent animal.

Now the man’s face is all over global media—not because anybody thinks he did something special, but because he is a sociopath. He’s this year’s version of Walter Palmer—who, before he killed a lion after luring him from a national park, had been arrested for the unethical killing of a black bear in Wisconsin. Black bears are the world’s most sought after hunting trophy, by far surpassing any other in terms of global trade. A sad fate for these powerful yet typically very gentle creatures.

Many hunters will denounce Bowmar for damaging the reputation of sport hunting. But it appears that there will be no serious legal consequences for what he did.

Cases like this remind us that we must strengthen the law. Our attitudes toward animals evolve for the better, and there is more antipathy for acts of cruelty like the one from Alberta. At one time, cockfighting and dogfighting were legal. Then we got our act together as a society and forbade these practices as depraved, archaic, and inhumane.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the National Park Service recently adopted a series of rules to prohibit unethical hunting and killing practices on 100 million acres of national wildlife refuges and national preserves in Alaska. Their rules, which still have some holes in them, are a triumph. Yet Alaska’s congressional delegation is screaming bloody murder that there’s a federal overreach, and we are going to face an epic battle in Congress to preserve the rulemakings and prevent them from being overturned.

But how can any self-respecting person tolerate aerial hunting of grizzly bears, the killing of wolves and their pups in their dens, and the baiting of grizzly bears— the sorts of practices that the federal government has banned on the most important federal lands in Alaska. These are the very definition of appalling acts—right in line with what Josh Bowmar and Walter Palmer did. We shouldn’t need a picture (Walter Palmer) or a video (Josh Bowmar) to remind us of evil conduct. Certain things are just beyond the pale. We know plenty right now. These despicable acts should have no apologists, and no lawful practitioners.

Wildlife/Marine Mammals

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  1. Joy Louters says:

    Wayne, thank you for this report and your eloquent insights into an emotion-numbing issue. I would rather not hear about Josh Bowmar and his sociopath behavior but I have to hear about it and so do the others who will fight to end for these majestic creatures and their young.

    Anyone who can kill an innocent animal through torture and then celebrate the deed without any regard for that animal’s suffering is a sick, sick person unfit for society. Lock him up in a hospital before he hurts someone else! What sickened me more is that I live in the same city as this lunatic!

    Canada needs to do something about its hunting laws if this man is getting away with doing this with no charges! I don’t understand what is wrong with people and their inability to feel empathy for another.

    • Lisa Golko says:

      I live in Alberta and I’m disgusted & horrified that this happened in my backyard. What I wouldn’t give to allow animals to shoot back. From what I understand our government has already drafted a bill making spear hunting illegal. Too late for this degenerate but it’s a step

      • Cheechako Quiroz says:

        Start protesting, send letters, gathered a group, go out with a sign and protest… Canada is ridiculous the crime against nature,ridiculous!!!! and disgusting, nothing to feel proud of.

    • Robert W Stilson says:

      Yes they should have someone hunt them down with spears and and do the same to those so called humen beings and kill them slowly.I have no use for people who can get pleasure out of doing this sort of thing.They need to put a stop to it.

    • Edyth C Jackson says:

      I totally agree with you

  2. Suzana Megles says:

    As an Ohioan, I am deeply ashamed of these two people from Columbus. To take joy in impaling a bear who was just seeking something to eat is the pits. Hopefully one day they will develop a conscience because clearly no one with a conscience would perform such a cruel and dastardly act.

  3. AVIS HOLT says:

    Despicable! Disgusting! Deplorable! These don’t even begin to describe these sorry excuses for human beings, both he and his wife! I pray that even their friends shun them. Anyone who would condone such a thing are just as bad as they are. I weep for this poor bear.

  4. AVIS HOLT says:

    Despicable! Disgusting! Deplorable! These words do not even begin to describe these poor excuses for human beings, both Bomar and his wife. I pray even their friends shun them after they hear what a barbaric act of abuse they ministered to this poor bear. No, we do not need a video or pictures of what he did. Don’t give that monster the satisfaction of showing his monstrous deed.

  5. Antoinette says:

    Tist is why I call the SECOND AMENDMENT:


  6. David Bernazani says:

    Many hunters have already criticized Bowmar for his foolish and cruel murder of a bear, saying that any decent hunter respects wildlife enough to get no joy out of making an animal suffer needlessly as he did.
    I’m getting real tired of hearing about these kind of emotionally defective morons mindlessly killing animals as though Nature were their private playground and animals their toys to destroy as they wish.
    When children become serial killers of neighborhood animals we consider them psychopathic, and send them to psychiatrists and hope they can be restored to normal mental health. But when adults do it, they call themselves “sportsmen”, and hope that everyone thinks they’re normal.
    They’re not. People like Bowmar need to be stopped. This free-for-all on the world’s last remaining large animals is getting ridiculous. We are standing by and watching the wholesale slaughter of our fellow residents of Earth, and it must end before there are no animals left.

    • Edyth C Jackson says:

      I totally agree with you. I wondered to myself, “after these sportsmanship people finish killing all the animals who is next us humans?” God made humans and animals to co-exist on planet earth and man is in the killing business. Plus man is in the bears, deers, etc environment where trees are being cut down, communities being built as well as businesses, highways, etc. Where are the animals to go? Men starting fires in California where land, homes, trees, etc being burnt. Air is bad because of pollution, etc We are not doing a great job on taking care of earth. We need to do better.

    • Faith says:

      I agree with you whole-heartedly! These beautiful, majestic creatures deserve to live & roam freely in their natural habitat, without fear of being hunted down for man’s “entertainment”. It saddens & disgusts me how anyone can find pleasure in torturing & killing ANY animal! It’s so inhumane, insensitive, & barbaric, & should NOT be allowed or condoned in this day & age! Animals have feelings, just as we do, but sadly they have no voice or defense to stop man’s sickening need to kill for “fun, for sport”! THIS NEEDS TO STOP NOW, so that future generations may be able to view & admire GOD’S beautiful animals in real life.

  7. March says:

    This means you”the animal”is a rare speciment
    Vert lovely but not Aline
    Man is giving it an outrageous walk when fort long tome without water.It becomes thirsty.

  8. March says:


    This means you”The Animal”is a rare speciment.Very lovely but not Alone .
    Man is giving it an outrageous work when walk for long time without water,without comprehension .It becomes thirsty because no job for eating.

  9. March says:


    This means you”Thé Animal” ca n eat,drink,sleep.
    And a gorilla is like that.

  10. Robynne Catheron says:

    It’s frustrating to know that he won’t suffer even a fraction of the agony he caused that bear. Any human who can do this is indeed a sociopath.

    The words “sport” and “hunting” should never be used together. It only shows our ignorance.

  11. GPC says:

    As a result of this spear incident, Alberta is implementing a law banning hunting with spears. The public is outraged. One twist: many hunters have spoken out against this. I believe that is why Alberta responded so quickly.

  12. Fran Leard says:

    This sick coward needs to be prosecuted for this horrible destruction of our animals. When will congress wake up and put harsh sentences on these brainless idiot.
    I’m sick of hearing they can keep doing these horrible destructions without punishment.
    It’s got to stop now.

    • Edyth C Jackson says:

      True need to know, there are consequences for bad behavior. Put him in jail (other people go to jail for lesser crimes why can’t he go for what he did) plus make him pay a big fine.

  13. Heather Hunt says:

    Josh should be speared or at the very least, tortured the same way he treats animals. He would be a perfect example of how not to be an ethical hunter, or a decent humane being, for that matter

  14. Irene Niederhut says:

    People who feel joy and a sense of accomplishment when taking an innocent life are truly patheic and attention-seeking, lacking the empathy and moral compass common to most 3 year olds. They thrive on the outrage and sadness they elicit in people who feel compassion and a desire to protect the defenseless. While it is pointless to think they will ever care about the damage and suffering they leave in their wake, they should be held accountable. Josh Bomar, like Walter Palmer will be remembered as mindless, impotent cowards, whose savage cruelty ended the lives of majestic, gentle animals having far more value than they ever would.

  15. mike says:

    As I said in another discussion, The USDA provides very direct rules and regulations in the dispatch of domestic animals for the production of meat. The intent behind the laws is to minimize suffering and cruelty. We have these laws on our books for good reason, as we are a civilized society. If I were to spear, use a bow and arrow, or really, even shoot a steer from a distance, I would likely be prosecuted for cruelty. And I SHOULD be prosecuted. I will ask an open question to anyone willing to answer, including hunters. Why should hunters be exempt from these laws in the way they dispatch animals for the production of meat?

    • Ana Quiroz says:

      Excume Mike: Civilized?, naa; Ur question already has an answer. Then if we all know this, Can you suggest something effective?

  16. p ackroyd says:

    still calling this sadistic animal torturing nazi a hunter … no fecking hope for change is there . WE call criminals like this prisoners , they have committed extreme animal cruelty and they go to jail for it . In the USA is is ok to torture animals , or allowUSA citizens the rights to destroy anything anywhere in any country cause of the fecking laws . protecting hunting when this act is NOTHING TO DO WITH HUNTING

  17. A Jensen says:

    He should be prosecuted and punished for his crime against wildlife and nature. How can he justify what he did. He killed an animal and left it for dead there’s no humanity in this he is a criminal and should be treated like one.

  18. Karen Morton says:

    I dont know much about hunting, but how is it legal to bait animals then kill them? Is that really hunting. Shouldn’t hunting be killing an animal with the intention to eat it?

  19. Ana Quiroz says:

    I think only evil governors who are on the side of hunting allow this. There is no other explanation. Since when Nature becomes unbalanced by itself? this is what all this unscrupulous hunters we get to watch on You Tube says. They are just soo not controlled that they are killing on a weekly basis and NONE of this “governors” who are sited on their ass in their comfy “woody” furnished offices give a damn, and why? BC they support this so their relatives /friends can widely open go hunting any moment any time, bc “they are taking care of balancing the nature bc the predators! ” BS!! So please HSUS take the stand and nail this F****S for once and all. Peace out

  20. Andrew May says:

    Lots of compassionate, outraged and disappointed comments here, but not one mention of groups to which any of us might contribute money, volunteer time or other resources. Not one mention of the politicians citizens of Alberta ought to contact to push harder to bring this issue to resolution. With all due respect, if you’re going to express your anger, that’s great; however, please do it constructively. With all due respect, venting your opinion without taking the time to research effective organizations offering constructive solutions and passing along that information in your comments leaves things unchanged. Sincere inaction is what allows poachers and trophy hunters to continue gratifying their infantile egos at the expense of innocent and vulnerable wildlife. The regrettable mr. and mrs. bowmar have disappointed and angered us all–they will pay for their aggressive sadism in the social media and political arenas. However, like everyone’s outrage, that payback does not resolve their crime, and means nothing to the slaughtered bear and the bloodline that died with her.

    So, if you’re interested in making a difference, go to the site linked below, read up and offer concrete support to the listed charities. The animals–and all of us who value them, as you all do–will not survive without us coming to their aid.

    http://www.goodnet.org/articles/512 [article title “11 Wildlife Organizations You Should Know”]

    Alberta political leaders (Alberta Provincial Government)


    Alberta Department of Wildlife & Parks Minister’s office:


    Fish & Wildlife Area office contacts:


  21. Parker cook says:

    the mean man in the actle ( sorry for my bad hand writing) was not killing the bear for food , but kill for sport. I think it id pointless to take away a life for fun. I mean what do you get out of it, an ugly rug. I am very mad that this person enjoys take a bear life away for entertainment. sensually Parker cook ( P.S. no not quoit me on this. )

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