Laytonville's "Bear Woman" apparently is still feeding bears five years after being reprimanded and threatened with prosecution.
"It looks like she has continued," said Fish and Game Lt. Loren Freeman, who helped serve a search warrant Tuesday on the home of Lynne Gravier, 76.
Game wardens conducting the search found 1,000 pounds of corn, four bears and lots of bear scat on Lynne Gravier's 40-acre property east of Laytonville, he said. Two of the bears were on her front porch.
Wardens also obtained photographic evidence while watching Gravier's property over the past three months, collecting sufficient information to obtain the search warrant, Freeman said.
The investigation was launched after neighbors complained that the feeding had continued, as had the damage to their property, despite official warnings issued five and six years ago.
"It's been ongoing," said Wayne Barbee. The bears break lights, tear down fences, decimate gardens and kill livestock.
Gravier has been warned multiple times over the years to stop feeding wildlife. Five years ago, Fish and Game officials asked former Mendocino District Attorney Norm Vroman to prosecute Gravier, but he refused.
It is illegal to feed bears and other wildlife, officials say.
Bears become accustomed to being handfed and can become destructive in their quest for a free handout, Freeman said. That behavior can become a death sentence for the bears.
Gravier could not be reached for comment Tuesday, but in an interview five years ago, she said she stopped feeding the bears after learning that some of her cherished bears were killed for causing problems.
Between 2000 and 2005, an uncommonly high number of bears -- 17 -- were killed in the Laytonville area under permits issued by Fish and Game for bears that behave badly. There have been no recent permits issued, Freeman said.
Gravier admitted in the past that she had a hard time saying no to bears.
She had names for the bears that shared her peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and cookies. She described their tongues as soft.
It's not uncommon for people to become obsessed with feeding bears and other wildlife, said Ann Bryant, of Lake Tahoe's BEAR League.
"We've had a lot of cases like this," she said. "You can't make sense to them, even though you explain they don't need our help.
"Their hearts are in the right place, they just don't understand there's terrible repercussions. The animals usually pay with their lives."
Even if they are not killed by trappers, bears brought up on human food don't know how to forage on their own, Bryant said. They also lose their fear of people, making them dangerous.
Freeman is hoping Gravier will be deterred from feeding wildlife if she's prosecuted this time. He also hopes the bears will adjust to foraging for themselves and stay out of trouble.
But, he said, "I can't predict what they're going to do."You can reach Staff Writer Glenda Anderson at 462-6473 or firstname.lastname@example.org