Illinois Woman Charged in Yellowstone National Park for Photographing Grizzly Bear and Cubs

by Matthew Memrick

An Illinois woman was charged Monday after her May attempt to photograph a grizzly bear and its cubs at Yellowstone National Park.

National Park Service officials said that Samantha Dehring, a 25-year-old woman from Carol Stream, was 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.

According to the press release, Dehring must appear in Mammoth Hot Springs, Wyoming, on August 26, for her arraignment. 

Dehring was at Roaring Mountain in Yellowstone National Park on May 10. At one stop, she was among visitors who 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 charged her.

Witnesses took pictures and video of the incident, which was shared with news outlets and eventually led to her identification. Park Rangers from Yellowstone National Park compiled investigation results. They provided the results to rangers in Dehring’s area, who served her the violation notices in person.

Darcie Addington, a tourist who filmed the incident, told USA Today that others in the area warned Dehring.

“It was terrifying,” Addington told the news outlet in May.

Dehring faces up to a year in prison and up to $10,000 in fines. She has not entered a plea.

Yellowstone National Park Rangers are investigating this case. Assistant United States Attorney Stephanie Hambrick will lead the prosecution.

Other Incidents After Women’s Encounter With Yellowstone Grizzly Bear reported that a bear injured a hiker two weeks after Dehring’s May encounter. Reportedly, it was the national park’s first incident with a bear of 2021. That hiker walked upon two grizzly bears. One of the animals made contact with the man. A press release stated that the man suffered injuries to his lower extremities but hiked away. An ambulance transported him to the local hospital.

Park regulations demand visitors to stay at least 300 feet away from wildlife such as bears and wolves.

Before the May hiker incident, the last recorded National Parks Service incident was in June 2020. At that time, a grizzly bear knocked a woman to the ground and scratched her thigh. Yellowstone rangers killed a black bear in a campsite. The bear bit a woman on the arm and head in 2020.

The Billings Gazette also reported on additional incidents in the state. In July of this year, a woman camping in western Montana was pulled from her tent. The bear killed her and wildlife officials later shot the animal.

In June 2019, a Yellowstone Park visitor was resting in her tent when she encountered a bear. She was bitten on the thigh by a black bear.