YELLOWSTONE NATIONAL PARK, UT (Nexstar) – A judge has sentenced an Illinois woman to four days in prison for not staying away from her while a grizzly bear and two cubs approached her dangerously in Yellowstone National Park.
Samantha R. Deering, 25, of Carol Stream, Illinois, pleaded guilty Wednesday to intentionally staying close to and photographing wildlife within 100 yards.
That’s the legal limit for people getting close to wolves and bears in Yellowstone, but prosecutors say Dearing continued to take photos as the bear approached May 10.
When her two cubs approached the group, witnesses said all but Deering had returned to their cars, according to the Billings Gazette.
Ultimately charged with deception, the bear ran at Dearing but ran away without an attack. Dearing’s attorney did not respond by phone Thursday seeking comment.
“The wildlife in Yellowstone National Park is indeed wild. The park is not a zoo where animals can be viewed in the safety of a fence. They roam freely in their natural environment and when threatened they will act accordingly,” Acting United States Attorney Bob Murray said in a press release. “Approaching a grizzly pig with cubs is an absolute foolishness. Here, pure luck is why Dearing is a criminal suspect and not a troubled tourist.”
On May 25, Yellowstone National Park shared a photo of the woman and asked for help identifying her.
Court records stated that advice from the public led investigators to the woman’s Facebook page, where she posted pictures of trees with the caption “I am totally impressed by the beauty of this place,” the Official Gazette reported.
Yellowstone National Park officials say there is an average of one bear attack per year in the park We recommend Not feeding people to animals or approaching them and using the car horn to keep them away if they get too close to the car. A must for hikers and campers Take these steps If they had a close encounter with a bear.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.