Acting United States Attorney Bob Murray announced today that Samantha R Dehring, 25 of Carol Stream, Illinois, pleaded guilty to willfully remaining, approaching, and photographing wildlife within 100 yards. The other count, feeding, touching, teasing, frightening, or intentionally disturbing wildlife, was dismissed. Dehring appeared in front of Magistrate Judge Mark L. Carman in Mammoth Hot Springs, Wyoming on October 6, 2021, for her change of plea and sentencing hearing. She was sentenced to four days in custody, one-year unsupervised probation, and ordered to pay a $1,000 fine, a $1,000 community service payment to Yellowstone Forever Wildlife Protection Fund, a $30 court processing fee, and a $10 assessment. Dehring also received a one-year ban from Yellowstone National Park.
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According to the violation notices, Dehring was at Roaring Mountain in Yellowstone National Park on May 10, 2021, when visitors noticed a sow grizzly and her three cubs. While other visitors slowly backed off and got into their vehicles, Dehring remained. She continued to take pictures as the sow bluff charged her.
“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. Approaching a sow grizzly with cubs is absolutely foolish. Here, pure luck is why Dehring is a criminal defendant and not a mauled tourist.”
– Acting United States Attorney Bob Murray
According to Yellowstone National Park regulations, when an animal is near a trail, boardwalk, parking lot, or in a developed area, give it space. Stay 25 yards (23 m) away from all large animals – bison, elk, bighorn sheep, deer, moose, and coyotes and at least 100 yards (91 m) away from bears and wolves. If need be, turn around and go the other way to avoid interacting with a wild animal in close proximity.
Read more about safety in the park, including how to behave around wildlife.