Woman accused of feeding bears to remain in jail

HIGHLANDS COUNTY, Fla. - An 81-year-old woman accused of illegally feeding black bears will remain behind bars pending further mental evaluation, a judge has ruled.

Mary Musselman, a retired teacher from Sebring, is also charged with probation violation for feeding wild animals of any kind.

Florida Fish and Wildlife officers arrested Musselman Jan. 29.

The agency says it had to euthanize a wild black bear last year that she fed continuously, causing the animal to lose its fear of people and interrupting its natural instincts. She continued to feed the bear despite FWC giving her educational videos, instructing her in person and giving her pamphlets.

She refused to stop, even after receiving a warning Nov. 8, according to the agency. Officers returned later that month and found that she'd been feeding two more bears. In December, a judge ordered her to stop feeding all wild animals and told officers to check her home weekly.

She returned to court in late December and admitted to feeding two to three more bears large amounts of food.

The judge found her guilty of two counts of feeding wildlife and placed her on probation for a year with weekly visits from officers.

It was later determined that she had continued to feed wild animals.

The mental evaluation process could take several weeks. Musselman will remain jailed during that time.

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