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Hunter kills bear with GoPro-mounted spear in Alberta, sparking backlash
Published Monday, August 15, 2016 8:28PM EDT Last Updated Tuesday, August 16, 2016 6:41PM EDT
Graphic video of an American killing a black bear in Alberta with a spear has prompted a public backlash, and a promise from the provincial government to end the practice.
In a video posted to YouTube on June 5, Josh Bowmar -- a former college javelin competitor -- can be seen baiting a bear in northern Alberta before killing it with a GoPro-mounted spear.
Bowmar can be seen celebrating after the spear makes contact.
The video, which has since been made private, drew strong criticism from the Alberta government, which says it will work to end the "archaic" practice.
"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," said Alberta Environment and Parks spokesman Tim Chamberlin in an emailed statement to The Canadian Press.
The government's move was applauded by Alberta's Fish and Game association.
"Certainly very pleased to hear that hopefully they're going to get it a bit more fast-tracked after an incident such as this has come about," association president Wayne Lowry told CTV Edmonton.
While the practice is currently legal, hunters and outfitters who have used spears to hunt in Alberta say they have received backlash before for posting similar videos.
Colten Fedorvich, who runs Bearbonez Outfitting, says he posted about killing a black bear with a spear back in 2010 and received negative comments despite it being legal.
"It's the same rules as if I went out with a gun, it's just a little more difficult," he said.
Fedorvich says he understands the backlash to the video and the practice of using a spear, but admits he's concerned the video is drawing outrage from people who are wholly opposed to hunting.
"I watched the video...give him some kind of credit. He's got big cajones to stand on the ground with a bear," he said.
Along with the newly proposed ban on using spears, the Alberta government says it will have Fish and Wildlife officers investigate the hunt to ensure everything was done legally.
Josh Bowmar has given a statement to various media about the video. Here it is in full:
I’m rather surprised to be receiving this, but I’d be happy to share with you some facts about this hunt and spear hunting in general. First and foremost, spear hunting gives the animal the greatest chance of escape, considering our ethical killing range is within 10 yards. You mentioned it being inhumane to hunt with a spear? I’m not sure where you’re getting this statement from, but it couldn’t be further from the truth. The spear blade I was using was 5 inches wide and 16 inches long and razor sharp. Not to mention, I got 24 inches of penetration on that bear causing more damage and trauma to the bear than any arrow/broadhead/bullet combination could ever cause.
It is a well known fact from spear hunters across the world, including Tim Wells who has speared over 100 animals to date, a spear will kill an animal twice as fast as an arrow will. Just think about how much larger a blade on a spear is compared to a broad head on an arrow. Normal fix blade broad heads have a 1 inch cutting diameter in width and 1 inch in length. My spear had 5 inches of cutting diameter in width and 16 inches of cutting length. It’s considerably effortless to see why my last statement would be correct. In fact, there a far fewer bears hunted and wounded with a spear versus bears hunted and wounded with a bow and arrow. Statistically speaking, one would argue a spear is more of an ethical, humane weapon to hunt with than a bow.
The Bear I speared only ran 60 yards 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. If I just wanted to kill, why not use a rifle and shoot the animal from 500 yards away with it having no chance to escape. If 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? And I’m not alone with caring about animals in fact over 90% of all donated money and time to animal conservation is from hunters. That’s an interesting fact to ponder. The truth is we care more than anyone about these animals.
In closing, you all should be ashamed of yourselves for trying to kill a heritage that has existed for over a million years. Literally, since the dawn of man, the spear has been a vital role in survival. The mere existence of our ancestors relied on the spear. It’s funny because in the 1960s when hunters where trying to legalize bow hunting on big game animals, there was a very similar tune being played then, as there is now with spears. “It’s unethical, inhumane, not accurate enough and not powerful enough to kill big game animals with a bow and arrow” yet look at where we are today. Your last question, you asked what we did with the bears we harvested. We utilized every part of the bears we harvest, In fact, it’s even against the law to waste the animals hide from the animals. We also eat the meat from our harvested animals including bear. On top tasting amazing, it’s extremely nutritious for our bodies. I hope this helps you gain clarity from my side of the hunt, most people with either fear, reject, or dismiss things they don’t understand, I hope you all have a better grasp on this particular hunt now. If there is anything else you can think of, that I can help you with, please feel free to ask.
With a report from CTV Edmonton's David Ewasuk and files from The Canadian Press