Woman jailed after narrow escape from charging grizzly mother filmed in Yellowstone National Park

‘Pure luck is why Dehring is a criminal defendant and not a mauled tourist,’ prosecutors say

Justin Vallejo
New York
Friday 08 October 2021 17:09
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A woman captured on video being charged by a mother grizzly will spend four days in jail for getting too close to bears in Yellowstone National Park.

Park rangers launched a nationwide hunt for the woman after footage of the encounter went viral in May.

Samantha Dehring, 25, of Illinois pleaded guilty to willfully remaining, approaching and photographing wildlife within 100 yards, according to a Yellowstone National Park statement.

Wyoming Judge Mark L Carman sentenced her to four days in custody, one year unsupervised probation, a $1,000 fine and a $1,000 community service payment. She was also banned from Yellowstone National Park for a year.

The video showed Ms Dehring filming a sow grizzly and her three cubs on 10 May before one of the grizzlies appears to become distressed. It charges towards Ms Dehring before breaking away and returning to her two cubs.

Ms Dehring and the person filming the encounter can be heard gasping before they

"Oh my God, oh my God," Ms Dehering can be heard saying she backs away from the car.

While other visitors slowly backed off and got into their vehicles, Ms Dehring remained and continued to take pictures as the sow bluff charged her, according to the violation notice.

When an animal is near a trail, boardwalk or parking lot in Yellowstone National Park, people are required to stay at least 100 yards (91 metres) from bears and wolves, and must turn and leave to maintain the distance.

Prosecutors dropped a separate count of feeding, touching, teasing, frightening, or intentionally disturbing wildlife.

Acting United States Attorney Bob Murray said Ms Dehring is lucky to have escaped with fines and a stint in federal custody.

“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,” Mr 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.”

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