An Illinois woman is facing four days in jail, a one-year ban from Yellowstone National Park and other penalties for not staying far enough away from a grizzly bear and her cubs during an encounter earlier this year, federal officials announced.
Samantha Dehring, age 25, has pleaded guilty to willfully remaining, approaching and photographing wildlife within 100 yards.
According to authorities, a sow grizzly and her three cubs appeared near the road in Yellowstone on May 10. While other visitors retreated to their vehicles, Dehring continued to take photos of the grizzlies until the “sow bluff” charged at her, video of the incident shows.
“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,” Bob Murray, the Acting U.S. Attorney for the District of Wyoming, said in a statement.
“Approaching a sow grizzly with cubs is absolutely foolish,” Murray added. “Here, pure luck is why Dehring is a criminal defendant and not a mauled tourist.”
Male grizzly bears can weigh up to 700 pounds while females can reach as much as 400 pounds, according to the National Park Service. As of 2019, there were 728 grizzlies in the greater Yellowstone area.
Park regulations say visitors must stay at least 75 feet from large animals, including bison and coyotes, and 300 feet away from bears and wolves.
Dehring was also given one year of unsupervised probation and will have to pay more than $2,000 in fines and other costs.