Woman charged in caught-on-camera bear encounter at Yellowstone National Park

National News

FILE – In this July 6, 2011, file photo, a grizzly bear roams near Beaver Lake in Yellowstone National Park, Wyo. Conservation groups sued the U.S. government Tuesday, March 31, 2020 over livestock grazing in a Wyoming forest, saying grizzly bears are too often killed by ranchers and wildlife managers for pursuing cattle in such settings. (AP Photo/Jim Urquhart, File)

(NEXSTAR) – An Illinois woman has been charged after video showed her standing just feet from an approaching grizzly bear and her two cubs in Yellowstone National Park.

The woman, identified as Samantha Dehring, was part of a group of tourists who were visiting the Roaring Mountain area of the park when the incident happened May 15, according to the Billings Gazette.

After the grizzly sow and her two cubs approached the group, all of the visitors except for Dehring went back to their cars, witnesses told investigators. Yellowstone rules say visitors must maintain a 300-foot distance from bears and wolves.

Video shared on social media shows the bear bluff charging the woman, coming roughly 15 feet from her, according to the Gazette. On May 25, Yellowstone National Park shared an image of the woman and asked for help identifying her.

Court records state that a tip from the public led investigators to the woman’s Facebook page, where she posted pictures of the grizzlies with the caption “absolutely floored by the beauty of this place,” the Gazette reports.

She is charged with breaking a federal law that protects animals in the park from “feeding, touching, teasing, frightening or intentionally disturbing wildlife nesting, breeding or other activities.” She also faces a charge of “violating closures and use limits.”

Yellowstone National Park officials say there is an average of one bear attack per year in the park and recommend that people never feed or approach the animals and use a car horn to drive them away if they get too close to a vehicle. Hikers and campers should take the following steps if they have a close encounter with a bear.

Earlier this month a grizzly bear dragged a 65-year-old woman out of her tent at a campsite in western Montana and killed her.

In May, a hiker suffered “significant injuries” after encountering two grizzlies along the Beaver Ponds Trail.

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