No bond for elderly Sebring woman who repeatedly fed bears - FOX 13 News

No bond for elderly Sebring woman who repeatedly fed bears

Posted: Updated:
A neighbor shared this photo of a bear near Musselman's property. A neighbor shared this photo of a bear near Musselman's property.
SEBRING (FOX 13) -

Neighbors say Mary Musselman has been feeding backyard animals as long as they can remember.

"She fed the squirrels, the birds, strays and that was in the community. She's just always been that kind of soul," says neighbor Patty Palmer.

That is, until Wednesday, when the 81-year retired physical education teacher was hauled to jail for feeding bears one too many times.

"I just think it's so heavy handed. Way overdone. I don't think that there was much thought given to her age, her physical, her mental condition," says John Payne, who is also a neighbor.

But authorities say she had been warned before. Last November, Fish and Wildlife officers had to euthanize a bear she had been feeding. A judge gave her probation, and made it clear: do it again, and go to jail.

"We sympathize with her and her husband. This is a situation that deteriorated through time and it's an unfortunate outcome," says Gary Morse, Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission spokesman.

Apparently, Musselman didn't go without a fight. An arrest report says she struggled and kicked at officers, then threatened to shoot and kill the wildlife officer if she set foot on her property again.

Wildlife officers say bears that are fed are more likely to get aggressive and more likely to be euthanized.

"Once wildlife, any wildlife -- especially bears -- lose their fear of people, then there's a potential for destruction when they're trying to get into people's sheds at food, birds seed, dog food, etc. And there's a potential for danger to people," Morse said.

A lot of people are upset not only that Musselman is in jail, but that a bear had to be euthanized.

Fish and wildlife officers say that's exactly what they want to avoid.

But once a bear becomes aggressive and unable to be relocated, they say they have no choice but to euthanize.

  • Spotlight storiesMore>>

  • Treasure, with a side of history

    Treasure, with a side of history

    Friday, August 29 2014 10:59 AM EDT2014-08-29 14:59:37 GMT
    In court papers, experts say there could be $50-million to $100-million worth of gold in the wreck of the SS Central America, first discovered in the 1980's, but untouched in decades.
    In court papers, experts say there could be $50-million to $100-million worth of gold in the wreck of the SS Central America, first discovered in the 1980's, but untouched in decades.
  • When hope was gone, parents turned to Google to save baby

    When hope was gone, parents turned to Google to save baby

    Thursday, August 28 2014 11:11 AM EDT2014-08-28 15:11:34 GMT

    They were told by multiple doctors that there was no way to save their baby. That's when they took matters into their own hands, and it ended up being the right choice.

    They were told by multiple doctors that there was no way to save their baby. That's when they took matters into their own hands, and it ended up being the right choice.

  • Career paths that will reduce or wipe out student loans

    Career paths that will reduce or wipe out student loans

    Tuesday, August 26 2014 10:32 PM EDT2014-08-27 02:32:23 GMT
    Seventy-percent of college students are taking out student loans, according to U.S. Education Department statistics. And the average balance has reach a staggering sum: $33,000 upon graduation – a record high.
    Seventy-percent of college students are taking out student loans, according to U.S. Education Department statistics. And the average balance has reach a staggering sum: $33,000 upon graduation – a record high.
  • PHOTOS: Red carpet moments at the Emmys

    PHOTOS: Red carpet moments at the Emmys

    Tuesday, August 26 2014 8:53 AM EDT2014-08-26 12:53:00 GMT
    "Modern Family" and "Breaking Bad" triumphed at Monday's Emmy Awards. From Bryan Cranston to Kerry Washington, here's a look at the stars' arrivals before the big ceremony.
    "Modern Family" and "Breaking Bad" triumphed at Monday's Emmy Awards. From Bryan Cranston to Kerry Washington, here's a look at the stars' arrivals before the big ceremony.
  • In depth: John Morgan & Grady Judd on medical marijuana amendment

    In depth: John Morgan & Grady Judd on medical marijuana amendment

    Friday, August 22 2014 3:10 PM EDT2014-08-22 19:10:07 GMT
    When Florida voters go to the polls in November, one issue could overshadow every race from governor to school board: Constitutional Amendment 2. That's the one titled "use of marijuana for certain medical conditions.
    When Florida voters go to the polls in November, one issue could overshadow every race from governor to school board: Constitutional Amendment 2. That's the one titled "use of marijuana for certain medical conditions.
  • Can Tampa ever reconnect with Havana?

    Can Tampa ever reconnect with Havana?

    Thursday, August 21 2014 9:24 PM EDT2014-08-22 01:24:08 GMT
    If your ancestors emigrated from Europe, you might trace your roots to Ellis Island in the early 1900's. If you're a Cuban American from Tampa, your Ellis Island is likely Ybor City around the same time.
    If your ancestors emigrated from Europe, you might trace your roots to Ellis Island in the early 1900's. If you're a Cuban American from Tampa, your Ellis Island is likely Ybor City around the same time.
  • WATCH: Grouper swallows shark in one gulp

    WATCH: Grouper swallows shark in one gulp

    Thursday, August 21 2014 12:03 PM EDT2014-08-21 16:03:54 GMT
    A grouper and a shark meet up in the gulf, and the end result may not be what you'd expect. Video posted to YouTube shows the goliath grouper swallowing the shark in one bite.
    A grouper and a shark meet up in the gulf, and the end result may not be what you'd expect. Video posted to YouTube shows the goliath grouper swallowing the shark in one bite.
  • Lonely lab now living in lap of luxury -- and she's not alone

    Lonely lab now living in lap of luxury -- and she's not alone

    Wednesday, August 20 2014 9:13 PM EDT2014-08-21 01:13:06 GMT
    She's the black lab nobody wanted a few weeks ago. But then her story went viral, and now she's right here in the Bay Area, living in the lap of luxury.
    She's the black lab nobody wanted a few weeks ago. But then her story went viral, and now she's right here in the Bay Area, living in the lap of luxury.
Powered by WorldNow

FOX 13 / WTVT-TV
3213 West Kennedy Blvd.
Tampa, Florida 33609
Main: (813) 876-1313
Newsroom: (813) 870-9630
Fax: (813) 871-3135

Didn't find what you were looking for?
All content © Copyright 2000 - 2014 Fox Television Stations, Inc. and Worldnow. All Rights Reserved.
Privacy Policy | New Terms of Service What's new | Ad Choices