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81-year-old Florida woman arrested for feeding bears

Florida law enforcement officers have arrested and are detaining an 81-year-old woman after repeated violations of state laws prohibiting the feeding of wild animals. The woman is accused of setting up feeding stations in her yard for bears.

While this might seem like a harmless activity, wildlife experts say that feeding bears both draws them in to an area and reduces their fear of humans and in turn makes them more of a safety threat to the local community.

This case is complicated because law enforcement officials are concerned about the woman’s mental health, since she has repeatedly violated orders to stop feeding the bears. After a previous incident her husband and a friend assured police that they would keep an eye on her and prevent her from feeding the bears, but she apparently evaded supervision and fed the bears when her husband was out getting breakfast.

After police discovered the feeding stations in the woman’s front yard they asked her about the setup and she said that it was for feeding birds and squirrels, which is legal. However because the food was accessible to bears it violated local laws.

Some in the community have questioned why police continue to arrest and detain the woman, but police say that they are concerned for her safety and the safety of others in the area if she continues to feed the bears.

This case is one instance in which alternative remedies are more appropriate than prosecuting the woman for a crime, since she seems to need mental health care and supervision rather than time behind bars.

Source: Highlands Today, “Woman, 81, accused of feeding bears back in jail,” Jay Meisel, March 4, 2014. 

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