State honors Upshur girl’s bear harvest

A 200-pound bear killed by an Upshur County girl is on display at the West Virginia Attorney General’s office in Charleston.

Miranda Ware was only 17 when she shot the bear on Dec. 14, 2012, in Randolph County. It is one of 52 bears that were killed that day, officials said. Ware’s bear was estimated to have been about 4 years old.

Loaned by the West Virginia Bear Hunters Association, the symbolic state bear is now on display in the east wing rotunda, just in front of the Attorney General’s Office. It joins another black bear already on display.

“It is wonderful to have another bear representing our office and standing proud in the halls of our beautiful Capitol,” Attorney General Patrick Morrisey said in a press release. “It is fitting that the state’s animal is a black bear because they are strong, resourceful and noble.

“We are honored that Miranda Ware, her family and the West Virginia Bear Hunters Association would be willing to loan this bear to us, so that the entire state can marvel in her beauty.”

Ware’s bear will remain outside of Morrisey’s office for the next year. The black bear that it will join is a permanent display.

Beth Ryan, the communications director for the West Virginia Attorney General’s office, said that a new bear will join the other in display each year. The display of bears outside of the office has been a long-standing tradition, Ryan said.

“I know it’s been going on for a number of years,” Ryan said. “It’s fitting because the bear is the state mammal. It’s a nice way for people to be able to see up close and personal the state animal.

“A lot of people have never seen a bear in the wild,” she said. “While these are no longer bears in the wild, it still is a bear that they can see. It’s just a way for people to get to know what a black bear is like in the state.”

Ware, who is now 18, is the daughter of Kevin and Mary Ware. She said the bear on display is only the second bear she has hunted. She said that next year, she will be hunting with a group of friends and wants to give them the opportunity to get their own bear.

“I just like the enjoyment of being out in the woods and being that close to such large animals,” Ware said, adding that it was her dad’s friend that introduced her to bear hunting. “Not many girls bear hunt. My dad has always hunted, and I’ve always hunted with him.”

She said Eric Beck, president of the West Virginia Bear Hunters Association called her dad to ask if he knew of any bears that could be donated for display. She said her father asked her about donating her bear for display, and she was excited about it.

According to the press release, Beck said his group was eager to assist in getting a new bear for display.

“It’s our state animal,” Beck said. “It’s part of our heritage to bear hunt, and we wanted to show people what a majestic and beautiful creature it is.”