West Virginia Capitol police are investigating the vandalism of a stuffed black bear that sits outside the Attorney General’s Office.
Attorney general spokeswoman Beth Ryan said that someone cut off two middle toes on the bear’s left paw.
“It looks like they used a pocket knife or something,” Ryan told the Charleston Daily Mail. “It’s crazy.”
“I don’t see the point in defacing something that represents the state animal.”
A receptionist noticed the damage last Tuesday and the office filed a report with Capitol police. Ryan said the vandalism likely occurred last Monday or last Sunday.
The hallway outside the office is not monitored by security cameras, although the entryways are, said Ryan.
State law prohibits possessing a bear or bear parts unless the animal was killed during hunting season and registered with the Division of Natural Resources. Violators face a fine of up to $5,000 and up to 100 days in jail, along with a two-year suspension of their hunting and fishing licenses.
The law would apply to a bear that has been stuffed because there is no expiration date on possession of bear parts, said Lt. Tim Coleman, a DNR training officer.
“Basically, you’d have to have a checking tag or a special tag to possess it,” Coleman told the newspaper.
He said that the law is intended to discourage poachers.
“It’s a pretty serious crime as far as wildlife is concerned,” Coleman said.
The office’s staff found the stuffed bear while cleaning out storage space in the Capitol. Its origin isn’t clear.