WASHINGTON- One of Maryland’s most high profile companies now faces an online backlash for the second time in a month, over its handling of a gory bear hunting video recorded by an athlete the company once sponsored.
Sarah Bowmar, a hunter and athlete sponsored by Under Armour, recorded the video of her husband Josh Bowmar killing a black bear with a home-made spear during a hunt in Canada in May. The couple uploaded the video in June, and it attracted little notice until the British Mirror picked it up in August.
The Mirror piece, packed with loaded language describing the hunter’s “bloodlust” and the “sickening” footage, drew the attention of anti-hunting and animal rights activists.
Within days a Change.Org petition calling for Under Armour to end its relationship with the Bowmars reached 4,000 signatures. The company’s dedicated hunting Facebook page was inundated with comments attacking the company not just for its relationship with Sarah Bowmar (Josh never had a formal relationship with the company), but for selling a hunting product line at all.
Sarah Bowmar said the couple received death threats.
Under Armour dropped Bowmar in mid-August, according to multiple media accounts, with the company issuing a statement calling the hunt “reckless” and saying it did not condone the techniques used.
Josh Bowmar defended the hunt as both legal and humane – saying the bear likely died within just seconds or minutes of being struck by the thrown spear. [Anti-hunting and animal rights activists disagree with this assertion]
Sarah Bowmar said she was unable to comment for this story because she was on a hunting trip, but pointed WUSA9 toward an Instagram post in which she sad the company’s decision “breaks [her] heart.” She also encouraged her supporters to contact Under Armour to let the company know if the decision bothered them.
Her supporters responded.
In the weeks since Under Armour’s decision to part with Bowmar, hundreds of hunters have left complaints and comments on the company’s Facebook page. Some of the posts show customers destroying or donating their Under Armour products.
“I am never buying any of your products ever again,” one wrote, appending the hashtag “#supportthebowmars.”
A separate change.org petition calling for the Under Armour to reinstate Bowmar now has more than 8,000 signatures.
Under Armour did not respond to multiple requests for comment on Monday, but in a Facebook post responding to an angry commenter the company wrote the following:
“Under Armour is dedicated to the hunting community and are committed to safe hunting practices that ensure a responsible and safe harvest of the animal while also keeping the hunter safe.”
Officials in Alberta, where the hunt was conducted in Canadian laws, said Josh Bowmar won’t be charged with any crime. Lawmakers there now plan to ban spear hunting, beginning this fall.
(© 2016 WUSA)