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Elder Law

Elderly woman is jailed once again after food is discovered in her yard

Posted Mar 7, 2014 3:14 PM CDT
By Debra Cassens Weiss

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An 81-year-old Florida woman was jailed this week after wildlife officials said they discovered food in her backyard—evidence that she had violated a court order not to feed wild animals.

Mary Musselman of Sebring was accused of violating the terms of her probation, report My Fox Tampa Bay, the News-Sun and Highlands Today. She has two prior arrests for feeding wild animals, according to the Fox News account. She was sentenced to probation after her first arrest, which occurred after officials euthanized a bear she had been feeding. She was jailed for a week after her second arrest, the News-Sun says.

Musselman’s lawyer, William Fletcher, told a judge on Tuesday that a medical evaluation indicates his client has Alzheimer’s disease, according to the Fox News account. Musselman is a former middle school teacher with no previous record. Judge Anthony Ritenour ordered her held without bond pending further evaluation.

According to an incident report, wildlife officials found bread crumbs, cracked corn, bird seed and a salt lick in Musselman’s yard, according to Highlands Today. When confronted, Musselman said the food was for crows and squirrels.

Assistant State Attorney Gary Ellis told Highlands Today that he believes Musselman knows right from wrong because she waited until her husband left the house before she put the food outside.

Feeding bears is illegal because the animals can lose their fear of humans and become more of a threat, according to Highlands Today. Ellis said his concern is for the danger caused if Musselman continues feeding bears. "A mother clutching her dead child is going to want to know why," he told the publication.

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