A woman known as the “Bear Lady” has been killed by a bear. Authorities discovered the remains of Kay Grayson, a 67-year-old eccentric who lived off the grid, in the woods near her trailer in Columbia, North Carolina. It’s believed she was dragged there and killed by one of the animals she loved.
Here’s what you should know about this fascinating woman and her tragic demise:
1. She May Have Been Dead for Up to 2 Weeks Before She Was Found
Police were called to Grayson’s home to perform a welfare check on January 19, reports WITN. According to Sheriff Darryl Liverman, officers discovered her dead body later that day. He added that she may have been dead “as long as two or more weeks.”
2. She Used to Let Bears Eat Out of Her Hand
The Outer Banks Voice reports that Grayson was known in the area for feeding the local bears in Tyrrell County, North Carolina. The paper reports she would “call to the bears in sing-song, prompting the animals to emerge from the shadows as she poured piles of dog food for them. Some of her favorite bears would even eat out of her hand.”
Sergeant Mark Cagle, with the North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission, said “She was definitely very cautious with them and understood their power and respected them.” The paper adds that she would often call police late at night if she thought she heard gunshots, fearing for her bears.
3. Grayson Lived Without Electricity or Running Water
The Bear Lady lived a humble existence in a ramshackle trailer on land close to the small community of Alligator. The Outer Banks Voice reports that she left her life as a professional dancer to live a rural lifestyle. She inherited her 1,000 acres from a “wealthy man” she knew through her championship sailing exploits in the 1980s, reports the Pilot Online. When she needed money she would sell a piece of her land.
Grayson didn’t have running water, electricity or a phone, and if she needed to travel into a neighboring larger town, she would wait at the side of the road on U.S. 64 until someone she knew drove by. Sergeant Cagle told the paper, “She was different. A lot of people say she was a fanatic. I would say that was true to some extent — but she wasn’t crazy. She was more passionate about the bears than fanatical.”
4. Before Having Her Photo Taken, She Made a Bear Inspect the Camera
In 1997, the Virginia Pilot wrote about Grayson. The photographer described how before he was allowed to take her picture, she wanted a bear she named “64” to inspect the camera. The photog handed her the camera, which she gave to “64.” Then the bear clawed the “expensive camera,” knocking it to the ground. Photos were then allowed to be taken. According to the Pilot story, a bear once broke into Grayson’s trailer, leaving claw marks across her home; she left them there as a “reminder.”
5. There Has Never Been an Unprovoked Bear Attack in North Carolina
According to the North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission, the only bears recorded in the state are black bears, which are less aggressive than grizzly bears. The commission adds that if the bears are not fed in one area, they will eventually move on. Black bears are not aggressive toward humans, and “There has not been an unprovoked bear attack in North Carolina.” Though, attacks become more likely if the bears become reliant on humans for food.