Canucks' Booth taking heat for bear baiting excursion
Ryan Kohler of Edge TV (left) and Canucks forward David Booth pose with a dead black bear. Booth killed the creature with a bow in Alberta earlier in May. (YouTube)
For a professional sports star, it’s about as unsporting a kill as they come.
Vancouver Canucks forward David Booth, safe and relaxed in his tree platform hideout, waiting patiently as a rotting stew of oatmeal, molasses and beaver offal works its magic on the bruins below.
Soon enough, the bears do come, wandering through the woods near Alberta’s Peace River, seeking out the pungent promise of easy food.
As one big male black bear sniffs around, trying to get a taste of the stinky slop hidden inside an old oil drum, the Canucks' $4.5-million puck swatter lets loose with an arrow, nailing the animal in the side.
It’s called bear baiting, and it’s illegal in 18 U.S. states, plus British Columbia, because it’s considered a cowardly way to kill, even by those who normally support hunting.
Former Minnesota Gov. Jesse Ventura once said bear baiting doesn’t even qualify as a sport.
“That isn’t hunting. That is an ambush. That is an assassination,” Ventura said.
But Alberta still allows bear baiting, which is why Booth came to this province just one week after his NHL team crashed and burned in the first round of the Stanley Cup playoffs.
There’s nothing like luring an unsuspecting bear into a deadly trap to cure disappointment, apparently -- unlike opposing players, baited bears have no chance of winning.
The hunt is to air on reality TV show The Edge and Booth has bragged about the kill over social media, posting photos and taunting critics.
“You have every right not to watch just like I have the right to choose to hunt,” Booth tweeted after posting a video of the kill online.
During the hunt he tweeted, “In Alberta trying to kill a few bruins. #unleashthefury,” followed by, “Just killed a Chara-sized bruin! 7ft black bear - 21in skull.”
The Michigan-born Booth may be deft with a bow, but he’s totally fumbled the outcry over this bloodshed.
Even supporters of the team have taken offence over the 27-year-old’s cheap-shot bear kill.
“I don’t condemn hunting seeing as I eat meat, but to glorify killing an animal like he is a little sickening to me,” one person wrote on a Canucks fan blog.
Another said the kill should cost Booth his job.
“Trade him. This is sick ... It’s different to hunt for meat. But to hunt like Booth did that is gross and then to post it. Yuck You are sick.”
Vancouver’s humane society has called Booth’s actions unfitting for a public figure admired by so many.
“We find that kind of hunting appalling -- he’s a well-know hockey player who’s a role model for many, particularly young people,” society spokesman Peter Fricker said.
“He’s setting a very bad example, and I’m not surprised he’s getting such a negative reaction.”
That’s not to say Booth doesn’t have some defenders on his side.
Among them is Blair Inscho, the man who runs Twin River Outfitting, and the guide who took the NHL player and his television crew into the woods to shoot a bear.
Inscho said Booth is taking it on the chin because of his fame -- and whether people agree with it or not, the American hockey player did everything according to the rules.
“It was 100% legal, done by the book,” said Inscho, a guide for 35 years.
“People want to criticize, but if he wasn’t a hockey star, nobody would even care.”