Society

81-Year-Old Mary Musselman, Serial Bear Feeder, Back Behind Bars

| by Allison Geller

Don’t feed the bears—or birds, or raccoons, or any other wild animal. Mary Musselman, an 81-year-old woman from Florida, can’t seem to listen to the law or a judge when it comes to caring too much for wildlife. Musselman is back behind bars as a repeat bear-feeding offender.

Musselman was first apprehended in fall 2013 for feeding black bears, as well as foxes and raccoons, out of her Sebring backyard. She faced similar accusations in late January, as well as charges of threatening and assaulting an officer.

After a week in county jail a judge eventually granted Musselman $7,000 bond, and the jumpsuited elderly woman was able to leave on the judge’s stern orders that she not resume her old habits.

"Miss Musselman," the judge said. "If I enter a court order, are you going to follow it now?"

Popular Video

This judge looked an inmate square in the eyes and did something that left the entire courtroom in tears:

"I certainly will," Musselman responded.

The judge warned Musselman that she would have to have a mental health evaluation if he deemed it necessary, and she complied. The woman’s husband and attorney had brought up the possibility of mental illness.

The judge also ordered two unannounced visits to Musselman’s home each week. During one of those recent visits, wildlife officials found three feeding stations in her backyard.

She is now being held on four counts of conditional release violation— two without bond.

"It is a sad thing. She just cares for animals," her husband William told FOX 13. "She would feed animals before she would feed herself."

But according to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission, feeding bears represents a serious threat to locals.

"Feeding bears results in bears losing their fear of people," said Gary Morse, an FWC spokesperson.

Musselman will remain in custody until mental health professionals give her a complete evaluation.

According to Fox 13, the 5-foot-tall former gym teacher has been kept company in jail by some of her former students, who are in for unrelated reasons. 

Sources: Tampa TribuneNews SunFOX 13 (2), ABC Action News