Yellowstone Tourist Charged with Federal Jail Time after Approaching Grizzly Bears

by Jon D. B.

The latest development in this high-profile Yellowstone National Park case sees the Illinois woman in federal custody, with one-year of unsupervised probation and fines to follow.

“Pure luck is why Dehring is a criminal defendant and not a mauled tourist,” says Acting United States Attorney Bob Murray of the Yellowstone tourist. Now there’s a quote for the books.

Thursday, Murray announced that 25-year-old Samantha R. Dehring of Carol Stream, Illinois, pleaded guilty to “willfully remaining, approaching, and photographing wildlife within 100 yards.”

Dehring would appear in front of Magistrate Judge Mark L. Carman in Mammoth Hot Springs, Wyoming on October 6, 2021, NPS cites in their press release. There, she would stand for her change of plea and sentencing hearing. In total, Dehring receives four days in custody and one year of unsupervised probation. In addition, she is ordered to pay a $1,000 fine and a $1,000 community service payment to Yellowstone Forever Wildlife Protection Fund. Add her $30 court processing fee and a $10 assessment on top, and Dehring is feeling the sting of her wildly ignorant decision; the original footage of which is below.

One other count of feeding, touching, teasing, frightening, or intentionally disturbing wildlife, however, would see dismissal. Regardless, a full one-year banning is in effect for Dehring from Yellowstone National Park.

“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,” acting attorney Murray adds. “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.”

Yellowstone National Park Cracks Down on Ignorant Tourist Behavior to Sighs of Relief from Outsiders Everywhere

According to NPS violation notices, Dehring, 25, was within Roaring Mountain of Yellowstone National Park on May 10, 2021, when fellow visitors witnessed her approaching a sow grizzly and her three cubs. All others present would “back off” from the bears and enter their vehicles. Dehring, however, would directly approach and agitate the wild animals. As the sow bluffed and charged her, Dehring remained in place to take photos.

“She got off pretty easy I would say. But I am glad that she was at least made to be an example that legal action will be brought against people,” responds frequent Yellowstone visitor Rory Talmon on the park’s Instagram statement (below).

As per Yellowstone National Park regulations, when any wild animal is near a trail, boardwalk, parking lot, or developed area, designated space is required:

Initial investigation of the case came via Yellowstone National Park Rangers. Assistant United States Attorney Stephanie Hambrick would prosecute.

Score one for Outsiders and grizzly bears everywhere.