Getting too close to Yellowstone's wildlife can get you in trouble with the law.
Anyone who has ever visited Yellowstone National Park knows the place is filled with natural wonders and some of North America's most breathtaking wildlife. They also know that people make dumb decisions within the park's borders. Most notably, getting too close to the animals.
An Illinois woman has just been charged in U.S. District court stemming from an incident that happened back on May 10 involving a sow grizzly bear and her cubs that just happened to be caught on camera and then went viral on the Internet.
According to the Billings Gazette, it happened in the Roaring Mountain Area. You can see the incident in question in the video below. The mother grizzly clearly feels threatened by the humans getting too close and mounts a bluff charge on a woman now identified as Samantha Dehring of Carol Stream, Illinois.
The Billings Gazette reports that Dehring has an August 26 court date in Mammoth after being charged with "feeding, touching, teasing, frightening or intentionally disturbing wildlife and violating closures and use limits."
According to eyewitnesses on the scene, Dehring allegedly ignored warnings from other visitors to get back from the grizzly and her cubs. Investigators state the bear got as close as 15 feet. Yellowstone requires visitors stay at least 25 yards from large herbivores like elk, moose, and bison, and at least 100 yards away from predators like bears and wolves.
An interesting wrinkle to this story is that the Investigative Branch of the National Park Service used the viral video of the incident to help identify her. The park posted her photo along with a plea for information on May 25 on their Facebook page. It was not long before they got a tip. This led to a search warrant for Dehring's Facebook page. Investigators found photos she is seen taking in the video of the bears. They also discovered Dehirng quit following Yellowstone's Facebook page the day the call for information went out.
There was no word on what potential fines or punishment she may face in the incident. Yellowstone and all the other National Parks are seeing a huge surge in attendance this year after many long closures in 2020 due to the Covid-19 pandemic. Unfortunately, that has also led to a rise in tourist incidents involving wildlife.
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