A dangerous close call incident involving a woman approaching grizzly bears in Yellowstone National Park has resulted in federal charges, given she violated laws and park policies for intentionally disturbing wildlife.
25-year-old Illinois resident Samantha Dehring was identified by federal prosecutors after video of the incident surfaced and gained attention through local media. US Attorney for the district of Wyoming Bob Murray announced this week that the tourist is charged with "one count of willfully remaining, approaching, and photographing wildlife within 100 yards and one count of feeding, touching, teasing, frightening, or intentionally disturbing wildlife."
Harrowing video which appears to have been taken by eyewitnesses from inside a nearby car showed Dehring approaching the grizzly and her cubs, before the mother bear briefly charged the woman. The bear halted the charge at the last moment, and a belatedly frightened Dehring only then backed off with camera in hand.
"While other visitors slowly backed off and got into their vehicles, [Samantha] Dehring remained," the US Attorney's office said. Park rules require that tourists back off when wildlife appear. She reportedly came within 15 feet of the wild animals.
Below is the statement of events from the federal prosecutor's office:
According to the violation notices, Dehring was at Roaring Mountain in Yellowstone Nation 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.
Watch the moment the grizzly charged the woman...
The daring woman who appears to be oblivious to how dangerous grizzlies are particularly when they feel their cubs are threatened got caught after "Witnesses took pictures and video of the incident which was shared with news outlets and eventually led to her identification," according to the statement. She faces $10,000 in fines and possibly up to a year in prison for the incident which happened in May.
According to National Park Service figures, 44 people have been attacked and injured by grizzly bears in the park since 1979, with eight deaths since the park's opening in the late 19th century.
"The risk is significantly lower for people who don't leave developed areas or roadsides, and higher for anyone hiking in the backcountry," the NPS has stated.