Cellphone snapshot of grizzly has Yellowstone tourist facing federal charges

Darcie Addington via US Park Rangers

(CHEYENNE, Wyo.) — An Illinois woman is facing federal charges for allegedly disturbing wildlife in Yellowstone National Park after a video surfaced of her attempting to get an up-close cellphone photo of a momma grizzly bear and her three cubs.

Bob Murray, the U.S. attorney for the district of Wyoming, announced on Monday that charges have been filed against 25-year-old Samantha R. Dehring of Carol Stream, Illinois.

Dehring is ordered to appear before a magistrate judge in Mammoth Hot Spring, Wyoming, on Aug. 26 to answer to charges of willfully remaining, approaching and photographing wildlife within 100 yards. She is also charged with one count of feeding, touching, teasing, frightening or intentionally disturbing wildlife.

If convicted, she could be sentenced to up to a year in prison and ordered to pay a $10,000 fine, Murray said in a statement.

The allegations marked the latest in a series of incidents of Yellowstone visitors behaving badly, including a man authorities say was arrested for taunting a bison and two men charged with “thermal trespassing” for breaching barriers to take up-close photos of the park’s famed Old Faithful geyser.

Attempts by ABC News to reach Dehring for comment were not successful.

With the help of tourists who witnessed and video-recorded Dehring’s close encounter with a grizzly bear family, U.S. Park Police managed to identify her and track her down, Murray said.

The incident unfolded on May 10, in the Roaring Mountain area of Yellowstone, Murray said.

“While other visitors slowly backed off and got into their vehicles, Dehring remained,” Murray said.

A video shot by a tourist showed Dehring standing roughly 15 feet from a grizzly bear taking a photo of the animal with her cellphone. She backed away only after the bear briefly charged at her and then retreated. Other bears nearby appeared to be startled by the encounter and ran into the forest.

Murray said U.S. Park Rangers from Yellowstone provided the results of their investigation to U.S. Rangers in the area where Dehring lives and they served her in person with the violation notices.

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