Woman at Yellowstone charged for videotaping grizzly with cubs

This is a story about an incredibly dumb tourist who is lucky she didn’t get mauled. As you can see from the video above, taken by another tourist from her car, a woman at Yellowstone National Park ignored warnings to return to her car and idiotically decided to videotape a grizzly bear with cubs. In case you’re not familiar with bears, grizzlies are the most dangerous kind, the kind you’re supposed to play dead around if they attack. These are not black bears looking for food who generally avoid confrontation with humans. (Black bears can also be deadly, especially if they’re surprised or are protecting cubs. Here is more about bears and how to identify black vs. grizzly bears.)

I’ve been studying bears because I’ve been hiking a lot and have had at least one scary encounter. I know not to mess with bears, I wear a bell and carry bear spray when I’m in the woods just in case. Thankfully I live in an area which only has black bears, but I digress. Anyway this incident happened back in May. The National Park Service posted a still from the video along with a message asking for help identifying the woman. I’ve embedded the Facebook post below. Of course the person who taped this was also dumb enough to post it on her social media. She’s from Illinois and has been identified and charged.

Authorities come bearing bad news for this foolish tourist.

After footage of a woman getting illegally close to a bear in Yellowstone National Park went viral in May, National Park rangers have been trying to identify the dolt — and now they have.

Through social media, investigators have determined that Illinois woman Samantha Dehring is the person who tried to get a better shot of a massive grizzly and her cubs in the clip, which has been viewed over 93,000 times.

Dehring now faces one count of violating a federal law prohibiting “feeding, touching, teasing, frightening or intentional disturbing of wildlife nesting, breeding or other activities” and one count of “violating closures and use limits,” the Hill reported based on court documents.

The woman did not make it difficult for law enforcement to find her: She reportedly posted numerous photos of the bears to her Facebook account, captioning one image of the creatures “absolutely floored by the beauty of this place,” the Billings Gazette reported.

[From Page Six]

It’s a good thing that this woman did not run because it could have turned out much worse for her. You’re not supposed to run from either type of bear. I would say that I hope this is a warning to other people not to get close to bears, but if I’ve learned anything over the past year and a half it’s that people will do whatever the hell they want. Especially if they’re heavy Facebook users. I just hope this fine is steep.

The photos below of bears are stock photos. There’s an amazing live webcam from Katmai National Park in Alaska of bears catching salmon as they swim upstream. At the time this post is being published it’s very early in the morning there, but during the day there are so many bears to watch. I sometimes just have it running in the background.



Photos credit: Patrice Schoefolt and Pixabay on Pexels

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43 Responses to “Woman at Yellowstone charged for videotaping grizzly with cubs”

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  1. Becks1 says:

    You know what I think when I see a mama grizzly and her cubs? LET ME GET CLOSER!!!

    (I only see grizzlies at the zoo, lol, I’m in MD, but if I were to see one in the wild…pretty sure this would not be my reaction.)

    Discovery Plus has a lot of the attenborough nature documentaries and my FAVORITE is part of the Nature’s Great Events series and its “the great salmon run” all about….you guessed it….the great salmon run. It’s fantastic, the photography is incredible. And so interesting!

    • nina says:

      Every time I hear about these animals in a zoo, my heart breaks. The stress inflicted on these animals is enormous and traumatic for the animals.
      I cannot comprehend the need to keep animals in zoos simply for human pleasure. We don’t have a right to see and control everything.
      I avoid zoos like the plague and don’t ever intend to take my children to one.

      • Becks1 says:

        In this case, if the grizzlies weren’t in the zoo, they would be dead due to the conditions of how they were found etc.

      • Ana170 says:

        There are benefits to zoos. There are plenty of animals that would have gone extinct if not for them. Some zoos are bad with inadequate means to care for animals but they also do a lot of good.

  2. Merricat says:

    I am so sick of this prevailing attitude about rules not applying to individuals. MOST rules (outside of bureaucracies) are not arbitrary. In this case, the rule is to protect her, and by extension, protect the bear. Because if the bear had mauled the stupid woman, they would have had to put it down. God.

  3. Brandy Alexander says:

    I clicked on the live bear feed and there are 8 bears there fishing! I might be watching this for the rest of the day…

    • Anners says:

      I am living for the fuzzy little buddy who keeps trying to jump into the waterfall. Adorable! Thank you for sharing the link with us CB!

    • Liz version 700 says:

      The live feed is awesome.

    • H says:

      Thank you for the live feed. I want to visit Alaska now.

    • Amy T says:

      That woman should have the book thrown at her but on some horrible selfish level I am now indebted to her for having led me to this amazing feed. Bookmarking for when I need a moment of spiritual uplift. And general joy and amusement. Thanks, CB!

      • Agreatreckoning says:


        Watching the live feed is joyful. Watchin reckless and stupid people is not.

  4. JRenee says:

    Good grief, how stupid and unnecessary was that? Sheesus!

  5. Maria says:

    People feeling entitled to wildlife and observing it drive me nuts.
    The example of Timothy Treadwell at Katmai is infuriating. It’s even worse that his girlfriend who didn’t even want to go with him died alongside him.

    • Liz version 700 says:

      You made me curious so I Googled this story and yikes!?! What a dumb man and his poor girlfriend. Bears are meant to be viewed from a far distance. What a stupid almost life ended move that woman made

  6. Celia456 says:

    Thanks for posting this, @Celebitchy. That woman is very lucky — much luckier than she realises. Bears are extremely fast and incredibly protective of their cubs. (There’s a reason “acting like a mother bear” is an expression.)

    Love that you’re bear aware when hiking. Voices are a good deterrent, and bear spray (used correctly) is great if you’re charged. Question: I also hike and experts in my region say that bells may attract bears, who are curious creatures. Have you heard anything about that in your area?

    • JanetDR says:

      Reading about conflicting advice about bears always makes me think about Bill Bryson’s A Walk in the Woods. His chapter on bears is one of the funniest things I have ever read! I live in black bear country and it is amazing how rarely you see them -crossing the road mainly. We have modified our behavior in several ways (only feed the birds in the cold months, keep compost further from the house, etc) to keep everything cool between our species. I only know they have visited when I see a footprint or bear poop. Does a bear sh** in the woods? No, they come out of the woods to go on my footbridge! LOL!

    • BeanieBean says:

      I’m an archaeologist & so have had plenty of field experience with bears. And so far, so good! I’ve never heard anyone say bells attract bears, but then again I don’t use bells. If I’m with a crew, we’re talking and/or on our radios; if alone, I’m talking out loud to myself, letting the bears & other critters know I’m there. Bears have poor eyesight, which is why they startle sometimes; another good reason for making noise.

  7. AmelieOriginal says:

    I’m going to threadjack a bit to talk about Bear 399 who lives in the Tetons lol. I actually thought this story was maybe about her because last year Bear 399 gave birth to four cubs which is not very typical for a bear. She usually stays in view of roadways with her cubs and is very accessible to the public so this causes traffic for miles as people stop to take pictures on the side of the roadway from their cars. It’s definitely a huge issue how she stays so close in view of humans but it’s been theorized she does this because it keeps other bears away from her cubs and keeps them safe from male bears. I forget how I found out about her (probably through social media) but you can read all about her here, she’s pretty incredible: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Grizzly_399

    In other sadder news, Bear 211, a black bear, spotted in Westchester County, NY/Fairfield County, CT was recently struck by a car and killed. I never saw him but I read about him quite frequently on NextDoor with posts about people who had spotted him. He was a young bear and seen closely around people’s houses and roadways which thrilled people getting to see him up close. But it’s never a great sign because the bear becomes habituated to humans and the risk of getting hit by a car is so great (plus the threat of it eventually attacking a human is also a huge risk). This story about this lady taking pictures out of her car so close to the bear is just a prime example of how we need to let these animals stay wild and not interfere.

    • olliesmom says:

      There was a bear that was traveling through Iowa near where I live last summer and because people were so bored because they couldn’t do anything, they had to go out and see him in person. And the authorities kept telling people to stay away. But no. They had to go out and block country roads with their SUVS and pick ups so that they could get their blurry distance photos of this bear.

    • BeanieBean says:

      I saw something similar in Theodore Roosevelt National Park. All along the entry road are signs posted saying don’t stop your car, and most definitely do not get out of your car, to see the buffalo. And what do people do? Stop their cars, & get out of their cars, to get closer to the buffalo for photos. Sheesh. A buffalo can kill you, and it’s certainly faster than you, and yet–people do this all the time. Same thing with danger signs, don’t go past this sign at the Grand Canyon. I’m surprise more people don’t lose their balance and go over the edge.

  8. SarahCS says:

    Thanks for the link to the live feed, it’s fascinating!

    As for this woman, ugh. That’s all I have without getting angry at all the factors which led to her thinking this was a great idea.

  9. Terri J Neff says:

    Thank you for commenting on black bears, I live where they are fairly common, but the fear of them leads to stupid mistakes. They generally come around on trash day and have a grand time, then disappear until the next trash day. You dont mess w mommas!

    This lady was so stupid, and endangered the bears life. I hope the charge is astronomical.

    Zoos have their place, and are largely being revised to help animals that could not be released into the wild. The Cheyenne Mountain zoo in Colorado Springs has two grizzles that cannot live in the wild and are treated to many enrichment activities and are treated well. Digger loves to play w kids on the other side of the glass.

  10. Sunday says:

    The total lack of understanding or care that most people have towards nature and wild animals is really depressing to me. The last time I was in the Everglades I was completely aghast at the tourists who were within 5 feet of a pair of crocodiles (not gators, which would’ve been bad enough, but crocodiles, which are far more aggressive), taking photos/videos for the ‘gram and totally ignoring any safety protocol whatsoever. The last time I visited Yosemite, a mother bear and her 3 cubs were spotted climbing up and down some trees, and while most people started slowly walking away as soon as the bears were spotted, a handful literally RAN closer just so they could get a photo.

    They all want the pretty Instagram shots and cOnTeNt for social media clout but they don’t actually care about the real damage they’re inflicting on these animals (by contributing to their socialization). I’m not going to lie, if one of those crocodiles had snapped at them the only thing I would’ve been sad about was that the crocodile would have to be put down.

    • LightPurple says:

      I saw a bear rip apart the back of a car to get at a cooler of food in a Yosemite parking lot. When entering these parks, they give you all sorts of literature about the dangers of interacting with wildlife and what you should not do and what you should not leave in your cars. But people ignore the warnings.

      We saw a mother grizzly and her cubs in Yellowstone. We were driving along the top of a cliff. People had stopped their cars and gotten out on both sides of the road to take pictures of the bears. Of course, our car ended up being right next to them and we couldn’t go forward or back. I started pounding on my horn and the woman in the car in front of me just stuck her arm out and pointed at the bears, as if that was reason for her to halt our trip and endanger us.

      • BeanieBean says:

        Yosemite has a great interpretation sign illustrating what you described–it’s the left side of a car with its rear drivers’ side door peeled back. Locked doors mean nothing to bears, it just peeled back that door to get the food inside. Don’t leave food in your car! The signs are everywhere!

    • manda says:

      I did not know we had crocodiles in the US! Wow. Meanwhile, I have a healthy fear of alligators, so I can’t imagine getting up close.

    • BeanieBean says:

      I wrote something similar above. People will not learn.

  11. HeatherC says:

    Lady it was Yellowstone, not Jellystone.

    I joke that this is the downside to vaccines and safety campaigns. The painfully stupid and ignorant get a fighting chance at making it to adulthood and procreating. SMDH

    • Winechampion says:

      I don’t get it. Is this a fat joke?

      • FilmTurtle says:

        “Jellystone Park” is a reference to the Yogi Bear cartoons.

      • Green Desert says:

        @WineChampion – no, HeatherC is referencing the old cartoon Yogi Bear, who lived in Jellystone Park. I took her comment like this is real life, not a cartoon. 👍🏽

      • North of Boston says:

        Yogi Bear now apparently lives in the woods near a Geico family

  12. olliesmom says:

    All I have to say is Darwin must be exhausted these days.

  13. StormsMama says:

    In 1994 my best friend and I drove cross country. We went to Yellowstone.
    We were humbled by how beautiful it was.

    I will also never forget the pamphlet they gave out had a warning about not approaching the animals for pictures. They cited a woman who literally put her arm around a Buffalo or bison so her husband could get a pic and was immediately killed by said animal.

    This was of course way before the gram. But the point remains the same: people throw out all logic, common sense, AND SAFETY PRECAUTIONS just for a picture.

    This dumb woman from Illinois is beyond lucky that she didn’t get hurt. My brain hurts trying understand how ignorant (and selfish) she was.

    • LightPurple says:

      And your car will NOT protect you. I saw a black bear rip open the back of a car in Yosemite to get the food in a Rubbermaid cooler inside.

      I also was charged by a bison in a parking lot at Lake Yellowstone, I had to floor the car backward and take a quick turn to get out of his way.

  14. Moxylady says:

    Oh. My. God. And if she has been mauled they would have put the mother down. What a sorry excuse for a human being. It’s not a f-inf zoo!

  15. C-Shell says:

    Like Celebitchy, I live in VA, have forested acreage in the Jefferson National Forest and LOTS of black bears. They’ve proliferated greatly over the past several years, and I’d regularly have them looking in my windows, attacking my beehives (before the electric fence) and bird feeders. A couple of years after my DH died, I gave up beekeeping because of bears. Then, while cute to find Big Mama and two little cubs frolicking on my patio last year, I finally gave up a life long hobby of feeding wild birds. You can’t really share habitat with bears, and I don’t screw with mamas with cubs.

  16. Agreatreckoning says:

    She is facing federal charges now.