WILLIAMSTOWN - The carved bear statue that was reported missing earlier this week has been recovered, officials said.
The more than five-foot-tall carving was found in the old Riverview Cemetery, said Sgt. Robert Sims with the Wood County Sheriff's Office.
"A subject traveling across old Waverly Pike looked out the window and spotted the bear in the cemetery," Sims said Thursday.
This occurred Thursday afternoon. It remains unknown who took the bear and when.
Dave Ferguson, a chainsaw carver with a home studio off of Seventh Street in Parkersburg, created and donated the bear. He said the wood bear was estimated to be worth about $600.
"I'm thinking, or wondering that someone read the missing article in the paper and thought they could really get in trouble and decided to put it in the cemetery," Ferguson said. "But I'm ecstatic it was found because I didn't think I'd ever hear about it again."
Ferguson said as far as the responding deputy could tell, the bear was not damaged.
"The case is still under investigation," Sims said.
The carving was removed from the cemetery not long after its discovery and placed in storage at the Williamstown Welcome Center.
On Tuesday, Ferguson reported the bear missing to the Department of Highways.
The 150-pound sculpture had sat next to the northbound Interstate 77 exit ramp in Williamstown for the past four years, since Ferguson had donated it to the West Virginia Department of Highways as a welcome.
The bear had held a "welcome" sign in one paw and an American flag in the other.
"People seemed to respect the bear because about six months or so ago the original flag had broken and someone replaced it with a brand new flag," Ferguson said. "So, someone cared about it."
On Tuesday Ferguson contacted WVDOH officials, who confirmed they had not removed the bear.
Officials said it is unclear when the sculpture was taken. Ferguson said he had seen it in early September but doesn't remember whether it was there afterward.
Officials placed the date of the theft between Sept. 9 and Oct. 9.