Yellowstone Visitor Sentenced To 4 Days In Jail For Getting Too Close To Grizzlies

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According to Yellowstone National Park officials, 25-year-old Samantha Dehring will be facing four days in jail along with a one-year ban from the park for not staying away from a mother grizzly bear and her cubs.

In addition to her other charges, she will be ordered to pay a $1,000 fine, as well as a $1,000 community service payment to Yellowstone Forever Wildlife Protection Fund. She’ll also be charged a $30 court processing fee and a $10 fee for the assessment of the case.

The incident took place on May 10 and authorities said that she pleaded guilty to willfully remaining, approaching, and photographing large wildlife within 100 yards.

Video footage filmed by a tourist in her car showed Samantha standing just 50 feet away from the mother bear and her cubs, filming them from her cell phone. The mother bear was getting annoyed with her close presence and bluff charged Samantha, causing her to flee back to the safety of her vehicle.

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It was just a bluff charge from the bear, so Samantha was lucky she didn’t get mauled. However, the courts certainly laid down the law on her to encourage her not to do it again.

“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,” Acting U.S. Attorney for the District of Wyoming, Bob Murray said in a statement. “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 law in Yellowstone National Park states that all visitors must remain 25 yards away from all large animals, which include bison, elk, bighorn sheep, deer, moose, and coyotes. However, visitors must stay 100 yards away from wolves and bears which are known to be more dangerous.