Samantha Dehring: Woman Jailed Over Yellowstone Grizzly Bear Encounter

samantha dehring

Instagram/@yellowstonenps Samantha Dehring was arrested for getting too close to a bear at Yellowstone.

Samantha Dehring is an Illinois woman who received a jail sentence for getting too close to a grizzly bear at Yellowstone National Park. The encounter was recorded and the video was shared online.

Here’s what you need to know:

Dehring Continued to Take Photos After the Group Noticed a Mother Bear & Her 3 Cubs

Dehring of Carol Stream, Illinois, visited Yellowstone National Park on May 10, 2021. She and the rest of her group spotted a mother grizzly bear with three cubs while exploring Roaring Mountain, the Justice Department said.

According to park officials, the rest of the group slowly moved away from the bears and got into their vehicles. Dehring chose to remain standing near the bears to take pictures.

The mother bear charged at Dehring but luckily did not attack her, as the video of the encounter shows. Dehring then put her phone in her pocket and moved away.

Dehring Pleaded Guilty & Is Banned From Yellowstone for a Year

Park rangers started investigating the incident in late May and asked the public for help identifying the woman in the video. According to the National Park Service, investigators charged Dehring on August 2.

She initially faced two counts:

  • Willfully remaining, approaching, and photographing wildlife within 100 yards
  • Feeding, touching, teasing, frightening, or intentionally disturbing wildlife

Dehring appeared in court in Mammoth Hot Springs, Wyoming, on October 6. She pleaded guilty to the first count. The second charge was dismissed, according to a news release from the Justice Department.

Magistrate Judge Mark L. Carman sentenced Dehring to four days behind bars and one year of unsupervised probation. She was ordered to pay a $1,000 fine and an additional $1,000 to the Yellowstone Forever Wildlife Protection Fund. Dehring was also banned from visiting Yellowstone National Park for one year.

According to federal court documents obtained by Heavy, Dehring will be required to serve her four-day sentence from October 15, 2021, to October 19, 2021, at the Gallatin County Detention Center in Montana. Dehring and her attorney have not commented about the sentence.

Prosecutors Say Dehring Was Lucky She Wasn’t Mauled

grizzly bear

Getty File photo of a grizzly bear at Yellowstone National Park in Wyoming.

Acting United States Attorney Bob Murray said in a prepared statement that Dehring was lucky to be alive after failing to move 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,” Murray said. “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 National Park Service has a section of its website devoted to bear safety. Park rangers warn that all of Yellowstone is a bear habitat. They instruct visitors to stay at least 100 yards away from bears and to never approach them to take photos. People are warned never to feed the bears. Rangers also say that if a bear approaches your vehicle, the best thing to do is to honk the horn and drive away.

Grizzly bears are especially dangerous if they feel their cubs could be in danger. The North American Bear Center says 70% of grizzly bear killings involve a mother defending her cubs.

The AP reports grizzly bears have killed 8 people at Yellowstone in the past decade.

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