'Bear Lady' May Have Been Killed by One
Body of Kay Grayson, 67, found in the woods near her NC mobile home
By Elizabeth Armstrong Moore,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 30, 2015 6:20 AM CST
In this Wednesday Aug. 1, 2007 file photo, a black bear is seen in Lyme, N.H. New Hampshire's state bear expert says good-hearted but irresponsible residents are “loving the animals to death."   (AP Photo/Cheryl Senter, File)

(Newser) – A North Carolina woman referred to by locals as "the bear lady" may have been killed by the very object of her affection. The body of Kay Grayson, 67, was found in the woods near her mobile home on Monday, though she may have died earlier this month, Tyrrell County Sheriff Darryl Liverman says. While it's not clear who or what killed her, she appears to have been dragged by a bear to her final resting spot 600 feet from her home. "She was a character," Liverman tells the Virginian-Pilot, which reports the sheriff's office was often on the receiving end of calls from Grayson regarding hunters in the area. The Outer Banks Voice reports she would "call to the bears in sing-song" then feed them dog food or peanuts. Some reportedly ate right from her hand, and a friend tells WCTI12 she had named them all.

After an early career as a professional dancer, she spent time on the water, and won a sailing race in Bermuda in the '80s. For the past 20-plus years, though, the black bears had become her focus, and she lived among them without electricity or running water on hundreds of acres of land left to her by a wealthy man who at one time traveled regularly with her by boat. In the end, bears were her great passion, the sheriff said. Sgt. Mark Cagle of the North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission describes Grayson as "very cautious" about the bears, and says that she told him she had stopped feeding them—and stopped allowing them to wander into her home—in recent years. Her remains have been sent to the Medical Examiner's Office in Greenville. (Last year, a college student was killed by a bear just a few dozen miles outside of Manhattan.)