WARNING: This article and video contains graphic content that some may find disturbing.
The province said it will introduce a ban on spear hunting this fall when it updates Alberta’s hunting regulations.
The news comes after a video posted on YouTube showing a man killing a black bear with a spear while hunting in Alberta sparked widespread outrage.
The 13-minute video, posted on June 5 to the Bowmar Bowhunting YouTube account, had been viewed more than 200,000 times as of Aug. 15. On Monday afternoon, the poster changed the video settings so it was no longer public.
The video shows a black bear approach a bait bin placed in a wooded glen. It runs away twice before returning a third time.
A man, identified as American hunter Josh Bowmar, throws a spear equipped with a GoPro camera at the animal, piercing its stomach.
The bear appears to run away several metres before the spear falls out of its side. The bear is not immediately killed and runs into the forest.
“I just speared a bear!” Bowmar can be heard saying. “I just did something that I don’t think anybody in the world has ever done… spear a bear on the ground on film. I smoked him.”
The hunter walks over and picks up the spear.
“That’s going to be some epic footage,” he said. “I got mad penetration,” he added, pointing to how deep the spear likely went based on the blood on the spear.
“These things are absolute killing machines.”
The video documents how the group went back the next morning to find the bear’s body. They find what appear to be sections of intestines around the carcass.
Another male voice can be heard saying the bear “walked 70 yards tops” before dying.
The Minstry of Environment and Parks has asked Fish and Wildlife officers to investigate the incident “to determine if charges are warranted under existing laws.”
Alberta’s NDP government said work is “well underway” to update hunting regulations.
“The type of archaic hunting seen in the recently posted video of a hunter spearing a black bear, allegedly in Alberta, is unacceptable,” a statement from the ministry read.
The video post describes the hunt as “no blind, no back up, about as primitive as you can get! This bear measured over 7′ 1” from nose to tail, with his skull still in. We were hunting in Alberta Canada with John and Jenn Rivet 2016.”
The outfitter couple operates livinthedreamproductions from their home in Swan Hills, Alta. Calls and emails to the Rivets have not been returned.
In a statement to Global News, Bowmar said allegations that spear hunting is inhumane “couldn’t be further from the truth.”
“First and foremost, spear hunting gives the animal the greatest chance of escape, considering our ethical killing range is within 10 yards…The spear blade I was using was five 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.”
“A spear will kill an animal twice as fast as an arrow will,” Bowmar said.
“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,” he said.
“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?
“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.
“We utilized every part of the bears we harvest. In fact, it’s even against the law to waste the animal’s hide…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.”
He said the hunt took place around May 15, 2016.
Watch below: A controversial video taken by an American man spear hunting a large black bear in Alberta has the local hunting community weighing in. Sarah Kraus reports. WARNING: This story contains graphic content.
Baiting black bears is not illegal in Alberta, but there are several rules hunters must follow. Bait can’t be placed within 1.6 kilometres (1 mile) of occupied homes without permission of the owner; it also can’t be within the same distance of most provincial parks. The bait site also has to be labeled and have warnings signs around it. Baiting is restricted to the open season and the preceding two weeks in each specific Wildlife Management Units (WMUs).
Alberta’s big game regulations detail rules for hunting with firearms, bow and arrow, and crossbows, but do not specifically address the use of spears.
As for whether using a particular weapon is ethical, Todd Zimmerling, president of the Alberta Conservation Association, says it depends on whether the hunter can ensure a “quick and clean” kill. Using a spear is not an inherently inhumane way to kill a bear – assuming the hunter is proficient, Zimmerling said.
“It depends on how much practice someone has had. If they’re able to make a good shot, then it can be an ethical kill,” he said Monday. “I certainly don’t want to see a whole pile of people run out
there starting to throw spears at bears just to try it. That would be an issue… but to actually put the time in it to do it, any legal method as far as I’m concerned can be done ethically as long as they put the practice in.”
Comments under the YouTube video include everything from support to criticism to death threats.
One poster wrote: “I really really hope one day a bear rips you to pieces you utter scum of the earth…”
At least one person threatened to do to the hunter what he did to the bear.
Another wrote: “Good job!”
Another comment reads: “A respectful hunter would hunt the animal and kill it fast and clean and painlessly with a rifle shot to the heart. And then he would harvest what he could for food or clothing.”
Global News has not independently verified the authenticity of this video.
With a file from The Canadian Press