Sunday, 21 August 2016

Alberta weighs ban on spear hunting after man films 'humane' bear killing

Environment ministry describes video of Josh Bowmar fatally spearing a bear ‘archaic’ and ‘unacceptable’ as Bowmar defends killing as ethical

Ashifa Kassam in Toronto and Oliver Milman in New York
Tuesday 16 August 201622.08 BSTLast modified on Tuesday 16 August 201623.53 BST

Authorities in the Canadian province of Alberta have vowed to ban spear hunting and are weighing whether to lay charges against an American hunter after a video surfaced showing him killing a black bear with a spear.

The video – one of several hunting videos posted to the YouTube account of Josh Bowmar – shows Bowmar holding a long spear with a GoPro camera attached to it as a mature bear repeatedly approaches a bait bin set up to lure it to the site.

After the bear nears for the third time, Bowmar, a college javelin champion and Ohio-based fitness trainer, launches the spear. He falls to his knees in excitement as he realises he struck the bear. “He’s going down. I drilled him perfect. That was the longest throw I thought I could ever make,” he tells the camera. “I just did something I don’t think anybody in the entire world has ever done and that was spear a bear on the ground on film. And I smoked him.”

His delight continues as he finds the spear, cast off by the bear as it ran into the woods, and examines the blood marks on it. “Oh yeah, I got mad penetration,” he says. “These things are absolute lethal killing machines.”

The video was seen more than 200,000 times before its setting was changed to private on Monday.

The Alberta environment ministry described the spear hunt seen in the video as “archaic” and “unacceptable”.

A ban on spear hunting will be introduced this fall as part of an update to the province’s hunting regulations, a spokesperson for the ministry said in a statement. “In the meantime, we have asked Fish and Wildlife officers to investigate this incident to determine if charges are warranted under existing laws.”

The video credits Alberta-based outfitters John and Jenn Rivet for organising the hunt. They did not respond to a request for comment.

In an email to the Guardian, Bowmar defended the use of a spear to hunt. “First and foremost, spear hunting gives the animal the greatest chance of escape, considering our ethical killing range is within 10 yards.”

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