The 81-year-old woman believes that the bears would not survive without her.
In a bizarre series of events that span back to early 2013, an elderly Florida woman by the name of Mary Musselman was recently arrested after continuing to feed the bears that frequent her back yard.
A Florida Wildlife Commission spokesperson spoke about the incident, noting that “feeding bears results in bears losing their fear of people,” and that they had gone out of their way to attempt to educate the woman on the dangers of her hobby.
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The feeding has gotten so bad that at some point last year the FWC had to euthanize one of the bears that had been coming to her house in Sebring, Florida for fear that its lack of apprehension toward humans would result in an attack.
Still, Mary Musselman persisted. When officers returned to her home late last year, they were disappointed to see that not only had she continued to feed the bears, but that they were finally getting to see the amount of food she was providing.
“We are talking about putting out as many as 17 or 18 bowls of dog food,” Gary Morse, an FWC spokesperson said.
Despite additional informational videos and a stern talking to, Musselman had to be summoned to court on December 6, 2013 for a judge to order her to stop feeding the bears. She was also placed on probation.
Again, she wouldn’t stop and had to return to court two weeks later where she freely admitted she had continued to ignore the judge and FWC’s wishes and was still feeding the bears. This prompted the FWC to monitor her residence even more, and a week later when they discovered additional signs of bear feeding a judge issued a warrant for her arrest. When officers arrived at her home to carry out the arrest, she threatened to kill them.
She is currently awaiting her next court date (March 3, 2014) in jail where she is facing charges of violating parole and battery on a lawman, and is being held without bond.
No one is exactly sure why Musselman started feeding the bears in the first place, and some are concerned about her behavior.
“I think it is outrageous,” Karron Tedder, Musselman’s former student, told ABC Action News. “This is out of her character to act as she did.”
For whatever reason she refuses to listen to the authorities, we hope she gets over it while spending time in jail. Bear attacks in Florida were in the news quite frequently in the last few months, so it is rather surprising that it took this long to put away someone who may have had a hand in a future bear attack.
What do you think the FWC can do to further discourage this type of behavior? Have you ever heard of a wild animal feeding case like this? Share your thoughts in the comments below.