Tuesday, 16 August 2016

The Alberta government killed a bear with a spear

Throwing spears to kill a bear is legal - and Canadians don't understand the law
(A picture of someone spear hunting a much uglier animal that no one raises a fuss about)

The Canadian press, and many Canadians, have gotten their collective knickers in a twist after an American hunter legally killed a bear. The reason everyone seems to be up in arms, is not because the bear was baited (more about that practice in a moment) its not because the bear was a treasured part of Canadian culture, it is because the man who killed the bear, did it with a spear, a move bleeding hearts everywhere(no pun intended) can't seem to stomach.

A couple of notes first. Black bear are not Kodiaks, or Polar Bears, they are about the least aggressive of all bear species. Here’s the Parks Canada recommendations on what to do if a black bear attacks you:

If you cannot escape and a bear continues its pursuit, react aggressively and try to intimidate the bear.If this fails, fight back with anything at hand such as bear spray, rocks, sticks, knives or other possible weapons to let the bear know that you are not easy prey. Act as a group if you are part of one. Don't forget to yell; help may be close by. 
So to start off, every hunting nut who has popped a huge boner over this, get over it. This hunter was not some sort of bad ass, spearing a deadly beast. Black bears are not a tough animal to take down. For instance, a woman in saskatchewan fought a black bear HAND TO HAND and survived. Using a massive spear as this hunter did, from 11 meters away, after baiting the bear, is about as brave as hunting rabbits with buckshot.

While we’re on the subject of hunting practices, lets talk about “baiting”. Bear baiting is in itself a controversial practice. Many humane societies see it as unethical, and many hunters see it as against the idea of “fair chase”.

If you’re not familiar (which is likely) with the practice it basically goes like this. When people hunt in large open areas, they can spy their prey from miles off, make a beeline and bag a kill. When people hunt in the woods however, their visibility is reduced to basically 20 feet due to all the trees and what not. So instead of tracking for days only to bag a small kill, people who “bait” will setup a bait piles several weeks in advance, then show up on the day they want to hunt and wait for a bear to show up to the pile of food they’ve become accustom to eating from. Here’s the humane society of America describing the same thing. 

“Bear baiting involves intensive feeding of black bears to make them easier target… It occurs typically weeks in advance of hunting seasons to accustom bears to feeding in a certain area. Hunters stack donuts, candy, grease, rotting garbage, corn, fish, meat and other high-calorie foods in the bait piles. Legal in many states, the practice is unsporting and inhumane, increases conflicts with humans and carries environmental consequences.”
So lets get back to who’s hands this bear’s blood is on. The hunter in question is a wimp and choose a less than intimidating animal to hunt, used a method that basically takes the skill out of hunting, and then in an attempt to make himself feel more like a bad ass he used his professional training in the javelin throw, to lob a large spear well into the black bear’s body. He then left the bear, coming back the next day to collect the kill.

While I’ll admit that I’m not trying to cast this hunter in any sort of positive light, that’s mostly due to my disdain for the skill (or lack there off) involved in hunting that uses baiting. The thing is though, Alberta is fine with it. They always have been. There has never been laws against baiting, and its common practice. So if you want someone to blame, blame Alberta.
(Alberta - in red, just in case Canadians need a picture to help them blame things)
Now at this point, you may be saying “but Cato, people are mad the guy threw a huge spear into the chest cavity of another living creature and left it to die, not that he baited the bear” … yeah I know. The problem with getting mad about this is how the law works. Generally laws in Canada are made using “precedent”. This means that for a person to be convicted if a crime, there must have already been a case where someone else was arrested for the same, or a similar action and convicted for it.
So when people come out and say “This guy should be arrested” it’s completely baseless. Alberta is now in the process of making spear hunting bears illegal (great use of time) but instead of understanding the Canadian legal system they have decided to start a witch-hunt after the hunter 
"In the meantime, we have asked Fish and Wildlife officers to investigate this incident to determine if charges are warranted under existing laws.”
Well since everything the hunter did was legal and because no one else has killed bears with spears…
"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."

There’s no precedent for legal action, and there’s no one to blame but the government.
You can go hunting for polar bears, (a vulnerable species) with a company that offers a 100% success rate, you can bait bears in Alberta so you don’t have to track your kill, you could even go to the other side of the country and hit a seal with a club if that’s your thing. These are all legal, government sanctioned actions.
(Nobody seems to be mad at this hunter, even though shooting a polar bear rarely kills it
and they struggle for life for much longer than the black bear in question did)
 Getting mad at the hunters in this situation, the same hunters who are likely paying the government thousands for the privilege of killing a Canadian animal, is crazy. If Canadians want to get their knickers in a twist over hunting practices then get mad at the government, not at the hunter who admittedly has a pretty decent spear throwing arm. Hunters are just playing by the rules Alberta's government has set out and are only now trying to change the law, in order to shift the bad PR away from practices they absolutely condone.

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