MORGANTOWN, W.Va. -- A West Virginia University mascot who got in trouble for using his uniform musket to kill a bear has been cited for another problem -- not wearing blaze orange during the bear hunt.

Mountaineers mascot Jonathan Kimble wears buckskin and a coonskin cap and fires the musket -- loaded with black powder but minus ammunition -- at home athletic events.

Kimble, 24, wasn't wearing the required hunter orange when he shot a black bear Dec. 3. The kill was legal but triggered a public outcry after Kimble posted a video online.

State Division of Natural Resources spokesman Hoy Murphy says hunters are required to wear 400 square inches of the high-visibility color for safety reasons.

WVU ordered Kimble to stop using his university-issued weapon on hunting trips after the video became public. He contends hunting with the gun is a Mountaineer mascot tradition, but he agreed to stop using it.

"While Jonathan Kimble's actions broke no laws or regulations, the university has discussed this with him, and he agrees that it would be appropriate to forgo using the musket in this way in the future," said WVU spokesman John Bolt.

Kimble accompanied more than a dozen friends and family on the trip in Pendleton County. In the video, Kimble is shown firing the musket at the bear in a tree.

"Let's go Mountaineers!" Kimble yells afterward.


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Kimble said Friday that he's been hunting all his life and this was the first black bear he's ever killed. He said all his friends have congratulated him for that.

"Hunting can be a controversial topic," Kimble said. "I apologize to any of those who took offense to the video. It definitely wasn't my intent to offend anybody."

Some WVU fans stood behind Kimble.

"This is a smart young man from West Virginia who did nothing wrong, who was celebrating who he is," said Robert Hickman, who holds two degrees from WVU and lives near Fairmont.

"If you're from West Virginia and you love the outdoors, or if you hunt or don't hunt, or if you fish or don't fish, it is a celebration of this state. As a former WVU graduate, I'm thrilled to death with him. Happy as can be."

The Mountaineer mascot first appeared at athletic events in the 1936-1937 school year. The Mountaineer is selected each year and the mascot's outfit is custom tailored to fit the winner.

Last February, the bearded Kimble was chosen from among 13 applicants.