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81-Year-Old Fla. Woman Arrested, Denied Bond — for Feeding Bears

An 81-year-old Florida woman was arrested on Wednesday — and is being held with no bond — after she was repeatedly warned not to feed bears from her property and refused to comply, authorities said Sunday.

The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) first discovered Mary Musselman’s bear-feeding habits when they received complaints from her neighbors in Sebring Fla., in November, said Gary Morse, a spokesman for the wildlife commission.

Wildlife officers went to Musselman’s home on Nov. 12 and immediately spotted a black bear on her property, Morse said. “It was coming right up to people.”

The bear was caught and had to be euthanized because “when we see this type of behavior, the public is threatened,” Morse said.

On Nov. 19, officers visited Musselman’s property again and saw that she was putting out birdseed and dog food.

"She admitted to purposefully feeding bears," Morse said. Musselman told officers she was afraid the bears would starve if she didn’t feed them, Morse said.

Feed was once again found on Musselman’s lawn three separate times in December, officials said.

She was given two misdemeanors and another warning, but on Jan. 5, an officer found Musselman was still continuing to feed bears, which landed her in court on Jan. 24.

She was told, “If she violated the conditions of her probation she’d be picked up and jailed,” Morse said.

During a subsequent inspection, more food was found on Musselman’s property, and the FWC kept their promise, arresting her on Wednesday, Jan. 29.

In the process of being brought into custody she allegedly fought and kicked officers, which resulted in charges of resisting arrest and battery on a law enforcement officer.

She additionally "threatened to shoot and kill the officer if she set foot on her property again," Morse said. "And I will tell you, that is recorded on tape."

Musselman is being held at the Highlands County Jail on four charges and will likely remain there until her court date in March, Morse said. “There’s no bond,” he said.

“The FWC is sad that things have reached this level of unpleasantness,” Morse said.