Illinois Woman Jailed for Yellowstone Bear Encounter

A Illinois woman was sentenced to four days in jail, a year of probation and a $1,000 fine, and $1000 community service payment and associated fees after pleading guilty to a charge of for “willfully remaining, approaching, and photographing wildlife within 100 yards,” according to a National Park Service press release.

The woman was also banned for one year from Yellowstone National Park.

A second charge of feeding, touching, teasing, frightening, or intentionally disturbing wildlife, was dismissed.

Magistrate Judge Mark L. Carman imposed the sentence on Samantha Dehring, 25, of Carol Stream, Illinois.

The charges stemmed from a May 10, 2021 incident at Yellowstone National Park when park visitors encounteted a female grizzly and three cubs. While other park visitors backed off returned to their vehicles, Dehring continued to take pictures as the sow bluff charged her.

“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.”

According to Park regulations:  “when an animal is  near a trail, boardwalk, parking lot, or in a developed area, give itspace. Stay 25 yards (23 m) away from all large animals – bison, elk,  bighorn sheep, deer, moose, and coyotes and at least 100 yards (91 m) away from bears and wolves. If need be, turn around and go the other way  to avoid interacting with a wild animal in close proximity.”

Read more about safety in the park, including how to behave around wildlife.

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