Woman gets jail time for close call with Yellowstone grizzly bear

Author: CBS News Staff
Samantha R. Dehring, who was jailed for this close encounter with a grizzly bear in Yellowstone National Park. Credit: Yellowstone Park Service

A judge has sentenced an Illinois woman to four days in jail for not moving away while a grizzly bear with two cubs came dangerously close and bluff-charged her in Yellowstone National Park.

Samantha R. Dehring, 25, of Carol Stream, Illinois, pleaded guilty Wednesday to willfully remaining, approaching and photographing wildlife within 100 yards (91 meters).

In addition to sentencing Dehring to jail, U.S. Magistrate Judge Mark L. Carman in Mammoth Hot Springs banned her from Yellowstone for a year and ordered her to pay a $1,000 fine and $1,000 to a wildlife protection fund.

Dehring’s attorney, Ethan Morris, didn’t immediately return a phone message Thursday seeking comment.

She encountered the bear May 10 at Roaring Mountain, a hillside with numerous noisy steam vents called fumaroles.

Video of the encounter was widely shared on social media. On May 25, the park posted a photo of the woman along with a plea for tips that could help identify her.

As the grizzly approached much closer than the football-field-length limit for people to approach bears and wolves in Yellowstone, other visitors backed away and got in their cars. Dehring stayed put and kept taking photos, federal prosecutors said in a statement Thursday.

The grizzly eventually bluff-charged, running at Dehring but turning away without attacking her.

“Approaching a sow grizzly with cubs is absolutely foolish,” acting Wyoming U.S. Attorney Bob Murray said in the statement. “Pure luck is why Dehring is a criminal defendant and not a mauled tourist.”

Grizzlies have killed eight people in the Yellowstone region since 2010, including Charles “Carl” Mock, a Montana man mauled while fishing near the park in April.

In July of this year, a woman camping in Montana was pulled from her tent and killed by a grizzly bear. Wildlife officials later shot and killed the animal.

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