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'Bear Woman' guilty of feeding bruins at her remote cabin

August 10, 2011 |  4:28 pm

 'Bear Woman' pleads guilty to feeding animals
Lynne Gravier viewed it as a bare necessity: Feed the burly bruins at her remote Mendocino County cabin to keep them from being shot by hunters.

At least that’s what Gravier’s defense was going to be if her case ever got to trial. Instead, the 77-year-old widow, aka “Bear Woman,” pleaded guilty to one misdemeanor count of feeding big game mammals, and prosecutors agreed to drop all charges if she refrains from feeding bears for three years.

“It’s a great deal for her,” said defense attorney Geordie Duckler, who specializes in animal law. All Gravier has to do is “act like a normal citizen ... which she likely won’t have trouble doing.”

Gravier pleaded guilty Monday to one count of feeding the creatures at her Laytonville home on Aug. 24, 2010, Duckler said in an interview, adding that prosecutors had hoped to show that she had fed bears for 22 years.

In a brief written statement, Mike Geniella, spokesman for the Mendocino County district attorney’s office, said that D.A. David Eyster did not initiate the case against Gravier and that it was originally pursued by former D.A. Meredith Lintott.

“Eyster has been cleaning house and resolving such matters,” Geniella said. “The resolution was favorable to the parties and others with a direct interest and did not waste jury trial resources.”

When Department of Fish and Wildlife wardens raided Gravier’s home a year ago, “they stumbled on what was essentially an animal hippie commune and shack-out pad,” according to the San Francisco Chronicle.

This is how the Chronicle described Gravier’s obsession:

“In all, 15 loafing black bears hung out with Gravier inside the house and on her deck, and lumbered around the compound like kings at a feast. Gravier named her oafish friends things like Smiley, Goofy, Connie, Biggie and Wombat. She admitted setting up a kiddie pool for wallowing. She fixed peanut butter sandwiches for her guests, sometimes mixing in glucosamine to ease the arthritis pain in older bears.”


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-- Maria L. LaGanga in San Francisco

Photo: Lynne Gravier. Credit: Brant Ward / San Francisco Chronicle