woman near bears

The woman videoed approaching within 15 feet of a grizzly sow and her two cubs in Yellowstone National Park in May of this year has been charged with two citations.

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An Illinois woman who went viral earlier this year for being bluff charged by a grizzly sow with cubs while dangerously close to the animals has been charged with two federal crimes for her actions.

Samantha R. Dehring, 25, was charged with one count of willfully remaining, approaching and photographing wildlife within 100 yards and one count of feeding, touching, teasing, frightening or intentionally disturbing wildlife, according to a news release from Yellowstone National Park.

The case is being investigated by Yellowstone National Park Rangers and prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Stephanie Hambrick.

Combined, the two charges could put Dehring in prison for up to a year and leave her on the hook for up to $10,000 in fines.

Dehring and other park visitors were at Roaring Mountain near the northwest corner of the park on March 10, 2021, according to the release from the park. The visitors noticed the grizzly sow and her three cubs and, while others backed away and returned to the safety of their vehicles, Dehring stayed at the lookout and continued to film or take photos of the bears on her cell phone.

Another visitor took a video of Dehring being bluff charged by the grizzly sow. After the bear charged her, Dehring turned her back to the bear and left the frame of the video.

A bear’s bluff charge is meant to scare whatever it’s charging at and is not always a precursor to an attack. A bear that is bluff charging will have its head and ears facing forward and will move in big leaps or jumps towards whatever it is charging.

If bluff charged by a bear, the National Park Service recommends doing essentially the opposite of what Dehring did. Turning your back to a bear could trigger the animal to change its bluff charge to a full-scale attack. Instead, the NPS recommends slowly backing away while continuing to face the bear, waving your arms above your head and speaking in a calm voice.

Aggressive charges, according to the NPS, are often preceded by the bear yawning, clacking its teeth, huffing or pounding its paws onto the ground.

Melissa Loveridge can be reached at mloveridge@dailychronicle.com or at (406) 582-2651.

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Melissa Loveridge can be reached at mloveridge@dailychronicle.com or at (406) 582-2651. 

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