SEBRING, FL - An 81-year-old Sebring woman is behind bars tonight for repeatedly feeding black bears at home after being warned to stop by a judge multiple times.
Mary Musselman, is now facing charges ranging from violating probation to battery on a law enforcement officer.
"I think it is outrageous," said Karron Tedder, Musselman's former student.
In the small town of Sebring, Musselman is well known. She is a retired gym teacher who worked at the local middle school.
Tedder described her as gentle hearted, sweet and someone who is harmless.
Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission officials told ABC Action News trouble with Musselman began last year when they had to euthanize a black bear she kept feeding.
"Feeding bears results in bears losing their fear of people," explained Gary Morse, FWC spokesperson.
He added that once those behaviors are learned a bear cannot be relocated. The behaviors interrupt the animal's natural instincts.
Morse said officers 'went the extra mile' to educate Musselman about the dangers of feeding wildlife. They brought out educational videos, talked with her and left pamphlets.
"She told us she wasn't going to stop," Morse recalled.
And, she didn't.
A judge found her guilty of two counts of feeding wildlife. She was placed on probation for one year and FWC officers were ordered to visit her home weekly.