A woman who got too close to a Yellowstone grizzly family so she could take photos was sentenced to four days in jail and received other penalties as well, including a one-year ban from the national park.
In a press release, Acting U.S. Attorney Bob Murray said Samantha R. Dehring, 25, of Carol Stream, Illinois, pleaded guilty to willfully remaining, approaching and photographing wildlife within 100 yards. Another count — feeding, touching, teasing, frightening or intentionally disturbing wildlife — was dismissed.
The incident occurred May 10 at Roaring Mountain in Yellowstone National Park. Visitors noticed a sow grizzly and her three cubs. While other people slowly backed off and got into their vehicles, Dehring remained and continued to take photos as the sow bluff charged her.
Yellowstone regulations say to stay 25 yards from all large animals, including bison, elk, bighorn sheep, deer, moose and coyotes, and at least 100 yards from bears and wolves. Investigators determined that the mother bear came within 15 feet of the woman, who quickly dropped her phone to her side and walked away.
“Approaching a sow grizzly with cubs is absolutely foolish,” Murray said in the press release. “Here, pure luck is why Dehring is a criminal defendant and not a mauled tourist.”
Another visitor at Roaring Mountain on May 10 filmed Dehring’s encounter with the bears and put it on Instagram.
The National Park Service posted a screenshot from the video and asked the public for help identifying the woman. According to court documents, “numerous tips were received,” which allowed investigators to track her down through her father’s Facebook account.
Dehring appeared in front of Magistrate Judge Mark Carman in Mammoth Hot Springs on Wednesday for her change of plea and sentencing hearings. On top of jail time and the park ban, Dehring was ordered to pay a $1,000 fine, a $1,000 community service payment to the Yellowstone Forever Wildlife Protection Fund, a $30 court processing fee and a $10 assessment.