[Lynne Gravier, 77], known to almost everyone as the "Bear Woman," has been feeding bruins and other animals for decades, but nobody realized the extent of her devotion until neighbors began complaining. Last Aug. 24, seven fish and game wardens raided Gravier's home. They stumbled on what was essentially an animal hippie commune and shack-out pad.And yet it took decades for the neighbors to begin complaining? And then, in the end, she gets no real punishment, after animal lovers protest the prosecution on behalf of the well-meaning lady. According to the neighbors, her loving ministrations were turning bears into problem bears that break into houses, chase sheep, and end up needing to get killed.
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.
Some 6,000 pounds of rolled and cracked corn was delivered every month from a ranch supply house. Gravier stored the food in a 40-foot-long shipping container that she used as an ursine food dispensary.
Knight-errantry was not in evidence among the hulking chowhounds, who turned Gravier's home into a reeking outhouse. The cabin-style home was piled high with filth by the time of the raid and immediately condemned by county authorities.
Gravier also fed 18 cats, three dogs, 40 peacocks and a steady stream of visiting turkeys and deer.
Bothersome bears are a particularly volatile issue in this cattle- and pot-growing town of 1,300 near the South Fork of the Eel River, in the heart of redwood country.Pot-growing, eh? Seems like you can get away with breaking all kinds of laws these days... at least if your criminality has enough of a hippie vibe.