• Outdoors Outdoors

Woman faces fine and probation after taunting bear at Yellowstone: 'These parks are a privilege'

"Pure luck is why [she] is a criminal defendant and not a mauled tourist."

"Pure luck is why [she] is a criminal defendant and not a mauled tourist."

Photo Credit: @touronsofyellowstone / Instagram

If you're lucky enough to encounter a bear while visiting Yellowstone National Park, your immediate thought should be about safety and respect.

The park's website recommends staying 25 yards away from elk and bison at all times, but when it comes to wolves and bears, 100 yards is the recommended distance.

Any closer than that and you could put your life in serious danger — and pick up some attention from the law in the process.

That's what happened to one Yellowstone visitor in 2021 who got far too close to a group of bears — including a mother and cubs — while trying to grab a picture.

She was filmed by other visitors from the safety of a car while she approached, and at one point, she must have been no more than 10 yards away.

That was before one of the bears decided to charge at her, closing the gap to probably half of that. 

Fortunately, the bear retreated instead of attacking, while the tourist also seemed to realize she made a bad choice and swiftly walked the other way. 

But the video soon went viral, and she later found herself in front of Wyoming magistrates.

According to ABC, Samatha Dehring from Illinois received a four-day jail sentence, as well as a year on probation and fines of up to $2,040. 

"Approaching a sow grizzly with cubs is absolutely foolish," U.S. attorney Bob Murray, representing the District of Wyoming, said in an announcement, per ABC. "Here, pure luck is why Dehring is a criminal defendant and not a mauled tourist."

When the video of the incident resurfaced on the TouronsOfYellowstone (@touronsofyellowstone) Instagram account, the comments section had similarly scathing remarks.

"Totally agree that every schmuck tourist must be heavily fined AND banned from all National Parks," one Instagrammer said. "Keep the wildlife safe from the menace of stupid humans!"

"These parks are a privilege and the animals who live there should be protected from people who don't respect them," said another.

The latter comment raises a key point. Bears who attack humans sometimes get euthanized if they're considered a threat to public safety. This encounter could have had dire consequences for both the tourist and the animal. 

The park has rules in place for a reason, with many signs located in the area to serve as a reminder. This person was fortunate enough that she ended up in front of a judge rather than in a hospital.

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