An Illinois woman will serve four days in jail after pleading guilty to willfully remaining, approaching, and photographing dangerous wildlife within 100 yards.
Samantha Dehring, 25, was bluff-charged by a grizzly while filming it in close proximity at Yellowstone National Park in May. A video of the incident went viral around that time as Park officials sought clues to identify the woman involved.
The video showed an unidentified woman approaching a female grizzly bear and her two yearling cubs at the north end of the Roaring Mountain parking lot while filming them on her cellphone. The female grizzly charged the woman, who eventually turned and quickly walked away from the bears. It was determined Dehring was 15 feet away from the bear at the time of the charge.
Numerous tips were received, and it didn’t take long for investigators to find proof on social media of her family implicating her to the crime.
Dehring also received one year unsupervised probation, $2,000 in fines and is banned from Yellowstone for one year. Charges were dismissed against her for feeding, touching, teasing, frightening or intentionally disturbing wildlife.
“Wildlife in Yellowstone National Park are, indeed, wild. The park is not a zoo where animals can be viewed within the safety of a fenced enclosure. They roam freely in their natural habitat and when threatened will react accordingly,” said Acting United States Attorney Bob Murray. “Approaching a sow grizzly with cubs is absolutely foolish. Here, pure luck is why Dehring is a criminal defendant and not a mauled tourist.”
The ultimate punishment was much lower than the one year in jail and $10,000 in fines she could have received. Park rules state visitors must stay at least 100 yards from bears and wolves whenever possible, and 25 yards from everything else.