A 77-year old woman who converted her home into a virtual hotel for bears will not go to jail and could have all charges dropped if she holds up her end of the plea agreement.
Lynne Gravier, 77, of Laytonville, Calif. was charged with the misdemeanor of feeding wild game after a 2010 raid on her home found that black bears had the run of the filthy property.
Gravier pleaded guilty to the charges on Monday in Mendocino County Superior Court, and Judge Richard Henderson delayed sentencing until Aug. 8, 2014. According to the terms of the plea agreement, the charges against Gravier will be dropped at that time if she does not resume the previous interaction with the wild animals and does not return to the now-condemned property.
"The end result to me was very positive," Gravier told The San Francisco Chronicle. "I'm glad that it is over and I can go on."
Gravier had been openly communing with bears for decades at her 40 acre property outside of a Census-designated place (CDP) known for its abundant home-based marijuana farms. At the time of the raid, 15 black bears -- with names like Smiley, Goofy, Connie, Biggie and Wombat -- had set up camp at the compound.
Gravier had 6,000 pounds of cracked corn flown in every month, and regularly made the bears peanut butter sandwiches -- sometimes spiking them with glucosamine to help older bears cope with arthritis pain. She also set up a kiddie pool on the property for wading.
Though Gravier's hospitality was well known to neighbors for years, authorities were unaware of what going on until some neighbors began to complain about the property, which the San Francisco Chronicle described as an "animal hippie commune and shack-out pad."
Last Aug. 24, fish and game wardens raided Gravier's home, and finding it "piled high with filth", they immediately condemned the property and banished Gravier, who was also caring for 18 cats, three dogs, 40 peacocks and fed a variety of regular visitors from the redwood country.
Gravier felt responsible for the bears because she observed that poaching was rampant in the area, and believes that violations were going unreported because many residents who grow marijuana on their property do not want to call attention to themselves and their crops.
"This lady may have thought she was doing a good thing," David Eyster, the district attorney in Mendocino County, told The San Francisco Chronicle. "We don't want to bash her, but we have to get her attention and get her to recognize that her feeding the bears was causing a problem for the neighbors and, frankly, is dangerous."
[Source: The San Francisco Chronicle via The Los Angeles Times]