Woman Jailed Over Grizzly Encounter

We always love talking about getting out and about! It’s a big, beautiful country and there is so much to see. Exercising outdoors is fantastic for your mind and body. Sometimes we also like to talk about things you shouldn’t do. Most of us know that, when it comes to wildlife, you should steer clear.

Getting into nature gives you the incredible opportunity to see animals in their wild habitats. Bringing binoculars on a hike is a great way to see animals in great detail. However, approaching wild animals can be dangerous and can because against park regulations. You can be charged with “feeding, touching, teasing, frightening or intentionally disturbing wildlife and violating closures and use limits” if you interact with wildlife. Interacting with wild animals can be incredibly dangerous. If a wild animal hurts a person, even if the person was to blame, officials might have to kill the animal, so it doesn’t do it again, encouraged by succeeding once.    

In May, a grizzly bear and her two cubs in Yellowstone came near a group of tourists. Most of the people did the correct thing, backing away and getting in their cars. One person, Samantha Dehring, stayed where she was and actually approached closer to take photographs. She was within 100 yards of the bear and her cubs when the bear “bluff-charged” her, trying to scare her away. The bear did not attack her. Ms. Dehring has been sentenced to jail time, banned from Yellowstone for a year, has to pay a $1,000 fine and pay an additional $1,000 to a fund for wildlife protection.

You can’t legally get closer than 100 yards to a bear in the park. Yellowstone shared an image of her online trying to identify her after the event. She was found because she posted her photos of the bears on Facebook with the caption, “absolutely floored by the beauty of this place.” After being identified and going to court, she pled guilty to “willfully remaining, approaching and photographing wildlife within 100 yards” and is going to spend four days in jail.

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

Sometimes there can be a disconnect; we spend so much of our time inside and watching screens. When you go out into nature, the animals are not pets, and there isn’t glass between you. Everyone wants gorgeous photos, but it’s much more important to come home in one piece than to get a great shot to post on Facebook. And no one wants criminal charges brought against them for visiting a park!

Banner image: Zdeněk Macháček via Unsplash
October 15, 2021
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