The Illinois woman who got too close to a family of bears at Yellowstone National Park is facing jail time.
The National Park Service confirmed in a news release on Thursday (October 7) that Samantha R. Dehring, 25, pleaded guilty to willfully remaining, approaching and photographing wildlife within 100 yards. Magistrate Judge Mark L. Carman sentenced Dehring to four days in custody, one year of supervised probation and a $1,000 fine. She’ll also have to make a $1,000 community service payment to Yellowstone Forever Wildlife Protection Fund and other fees. Dehring is banned from Yellowstone National Park for one year, according to the National Park Service.
The incident happened on May 10 around 4:45 p.m. Yellowstone National Park shared a photo of Dehring in May, seeking the public’s help in search of the then-unidentified woman. Park officials said Dehring “approached a female grizzly bear and her two cubs at the north end of the Roaring Mountain parking lot. The female grizzly charged the woman who turned and walked away from the bears.”
“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.”
Yellowstone National Park regulations state that people must stay 25 yards from large animals (including bison, elk, moose and others), and stay at least 100 yards from bears and wolves. Find more info about park safety here.