Florida Woman Found Guilty of Feeding Bears
SEBRING- Wildlife officials said an 81-year-old woman is behind bars for refusing to stop feeding black bears near her house.
Mary Musselman is known around the small town of Sebring as retired middle school gym coach with the gentlest heart. But with her arrest making its way around the internet, she’s becoming better known as the woman who is feeding bears.
“We are talking about putting out as many as 17 or 18 bowls of dog food,” said a Florida Fish and Wildlife officer.
FWC officers told us the trouble began last year when they had to euthanize a bear Musselman kept providing meals to.
“Feeding bears results in bears losing their fear of people,” said Sgt. Gary Morse.
Morse said FWC tried educating Musselman about the dangers of feeding bears, but she kept on doing it. She was caught not just once but twice, with food bowls outside her house. She admitted to it and said she wouldn't stop. Musselman wound up in court. The judge found her guilty of feeding wildlife.
Feeding wildlife puts the community at risk from property destruction of possible danger of life and limb.
The elderly woman was sent home on probation and warned not to do it again! But wildlife officers said they caught her again just two weeks ago. The judge ordered her arrested. This time officers said she also resisted arrest. She’s back in a jail cell facing more serious charges of battery on a law officer.
But Musselman's friends worry she may not fully comprehend the judge's orders or the seriousness of the charges. This is out of her character to act as she did. Musselman's friends want her to return home as soon as possible. They said her husband is sick with cancer and has no other caretaker. Her supporters are also trying to find a mental health advocate to speak on her behalf before a judge.
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