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Woman sentenced for getting too close to bears at Yellowstone

Crime Watch

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WEST YELLOWSTONE, Montana — A Illinois woman will spend four days in jail after a video surfaced of her staying too close to a momma grizzly bear and her cubs at Yellowstone National Park.

Samantha Dehring, 25, of Carol Stream, Illinois, was sentenced Thursday to the jail time and a year of unsupervised probation. Dehring pleaded guilty to willfully remaining, approaching, and photographing wildlife within 100 yards, according to a Yellowstone National Park News release.

The charges stem from a May 10 incident when Dehring was at Roaring Mountain in the national park when the sow grizzly and three cubs approached. While other visitors backed away, Dehring stayed to take pictures. The grizzly charged, but she was able to get out of the way.

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Witnesses took pictures and video of the incident which were shared across the internet. The video helped lead to her identification, according to federal prosecutors.

“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 United States Attorney Bob Murray said in a news release. “Approaching a sow grizzly with cubs is absolutely foolish. Here, pure luck is why Dehring is a criminal defendant and not a mauled tourist.”

With the guilty plea, Dehring is banned from Yellowstone National Park for a year. Magistrate Judge Mark L. Carman also ordered she 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.