81-year-old Sebring woman arrested for feeding bears - WRBL

81-year-old Sebring woman arrested for feeding bears

Posted: Updated:
Mary Mussleman, 81, is accused of feeding bears. Highlands County Jail booking photo Mary Mussleman, 81, is accused of feeding bears. Highlands County Jail booking photo
A Neighbor of Mary Mussleman took this photo. A Neighbor of Mary Mussleman took this photo.
HIGHLANDS COUNTY, FL (WFLA) - An 81-year-old woman is behind bars at the Highlands County Jail after she was arrested for feeding bears.

Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission officers say Mary Mussleman refused to stop feeding bears at her Sebring home.

"She was putting out corn, dog food and a number of other things. She was also feeding Sandhill cranes which is illegal," said Gary Morse With FWC.

One of Mussleman's neighbors, Linda Sbiegay, said she has seen the bears over the past several months. "When we left cat food in the front porch and got up in the morning and there was this big rip in the screen," said Spiegay.

"It was nice big paw prints on the screen. It was kind of cool."

Speigay and other neighbors said they weren't afraid of the bears but they're cautious. "I don't go out at night without a flashlight. I do not want to be surprised."

The bear feeding was first reported at the beginning of November. Wildlife officials say that bears that are fed by humans can become a dangerous nuisance.

"We sent officers and biologist out to the area and found out it was true. As a result, we had to euthanize one of the bears. We did educate her and gave her several warnings and were out there a number of times in the past several months for the same issues," added Morse.

Morse said after Mussleman would not comply, she was given a notice to appear in court and ordered by the judge to stop feeding the bears.

"After the second appearance, the judge ordered our officer to maintain a watch on the property weekly. If she violated that portion of the probation she was to be picked up and brought in," said Morse.

Mussleman was arrested Wednesday after an officer found food at her home. Morse said Mussleman was resistant and a Highlands County Sheriff's Deputy was called in to assist with the arrest. The HCSO deputy said that Mussleman threatened to kill them.

Mussleman is now facing charges of violation of probation, resisting an officer with violence and battery on a officer. A judge ruled that Mussleman should not be allowed to bond out of jail and she will remain behind bars until her March 3 court appearance.

Morse said Friday, "A fed bear is a dead bear. You can not relocate a bear that's become a nuisance. No matter where you put them they're going to exhibit that behavior and the behavior will become worse over time to where it may be a threat to personal safety."

Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission said they’ve worked over the past six months to educate people in the area about intentionally and not intentionally feeding the bears.

Copyright 2014 WFLA-TV (Media General). All rights reserved.


  • 8 On Your SideMore>>

  • 1 dead, 1 sickened from flesh-eating bacteria in Sarasota

    1 dead, 1 sickened from flesh-eating bacteria in Sarasota

    Wednesday, July 30 2014 12:55 PM EDT2014-07-30 16:55:47 GMT
    WFLA file photo.WFLA file photo.
    Sarasota County health officials have issued a warning against eating raw oysters and exposing open wounds to coastal and inland waters after one person died and another was sickened by a flesh-eating bacteria.
    Sarasota County health officials have issued a warning against eating raw oysters and exposing open wounds to coastal and inland waters after one person died and another was sickened by a flesh-eating bacteria.
  • An app that repels mosquitoes? We test it.

    An app that repels mosquitoes? We test it.

    Wednesday, July 30 2014 11:53 AM EDT2014-07-30 15:53:07 GMT
    Now, there's an app that claims to keep mosquitoes away. You can download the anti-mosquito sonic repeller on your smart phone.
    Now, there's an app that claims to keep mosquitoes away. You can download the anti-mosquito sonic repeller on your smart phone.

  • Back to School: Special shoe store for little girls

    Back to School: Special shoe store for little girls

    Wednesday, July 30 2014 6:51 AM EDT2014-07-30 10:51:59 GMT
    Colete Glover-Hannah has turned her living room into a mini shoe store.
    Colete Glover-Hannah has turned her living room into a mini shoe store.
  • NewsMore>>

  • 1 dead, 1 sickened from flesh-eating bacteria in Sarasota

    1 dead, 1 sickened from flesh-eating bacteria in Sarasota

    Wednesday, July 30 2014 12:55 PM EDT2014-07-30 16:55:47 GMT
    WFLA file photo.WFLA file photo.
    Sarasota County health officials have issued a warning against eating raw oysters and exposing open wounds to coastal and inland waters after one person died and another was sickened by a flesh-eating bacteria.
    Sarasota County health officials have issued a warning against eating raw oysters and exposing open wounds to coastal and inland waters after one person died and another was sickened by a flesh-eating bacteria.
  • Florida's CFO: Insurance customers entitled to refunds

    Florida's CFO: Insurance customers entitled to refunds

    Wednesday, July 30 2014 12:37 PM EDT2014-07-30 16:37:47 GMT
    Consumers who bought insurance plans but could not use them in the early days of the Affordable Care Act rollout should be able to get a refund, Florida’s chief financial officer told News Channel 8. Some customers who signed up for plans and paid premiums didn’t initially receive ID cards or numbers from insurance company Florida Blue in early 2014.
    Consumers who bought insurance plans but could not use them in the early days of the Affordable Care Act rollout should be able to get a refund, Florida’s chief financial officer told News Channel 8. Some customers who signed up for plans and paid premiums didn’t initially receive ID cards or numbers from insurance company Florida Blue in early 2014.
  • An app that repels mosquitoes? We test it.

    An app that repels mosquitoes? We test it.

    Wednesday, July 30 2014 11:53 AM EDT2014-07-30 15:53:07 GMT
    Now, there's an app that claims to keep mosquitoes away. You can download the anti-mosquito sonic repeller on your smart phone.
    Now, there's an app that claims to keep mosquitoes away. You can download the anti-mosquito sonic repeller on your smart phone.

  • Sign up for WFLA News Channel 8 Email Alerts

    * denotes required fields






    Thank you for signing up! You will receive a confirmation email shortly.
Powered by WorldNow

1350 13th Avenue
Columbus, GA 31901

Telephone: 706.323.3333
Fax: 706.327.6655
Email: news@wrbl.com

Can't find something?
Powered by WorldNow
All content © Copyright 2000 - 2014 Media General Communications Holdings, LLC. A Media General Company.