Two Women Face Jail Time and Steep Fines in Separate Bear Harassment Incidents
An Illinois women is going to jail for breaking wildlife law in Yellowstone; a British Columbia woman must pay $60,000 for feeding black bears in her backyard
Four days in jail—that’s the sentence for Samantha Dehring, 25, of Carol Stream, Ill., who pled guilty to “willfully remaining, approaching, and photographing wildlife within 100 yards,” said Wyoming U.S. attorney Bob Murray on Oct. 7.
Dehring also is banned from visiting Yellowstone National Park for a year following her incident with a charging grizzly bear sow and her three cubs while in Yellowstone as Outdoor Life reported in May 2021.
According to a report in the New York Times, U.S. Magistrate Judge Mark L. Carman on Oct. 6 also sentenced Dehring to one year of unsupervised probation and was ordered to pay a $1,000 fine and make a $1,000 community service payment to the Yellowstone Forever Wildlife Protection Fund.
“The park is not a zoo where animals can be viewed within the safety of a fenced enclosure,” U.S. Attorney Murray said. “Approaching a sow grizzly with cubs is absolutely foolish,” he said. “Here, pure luck is why Dehring is a criminal defendant and not a mauled tourist.”
B.C. Woman Fined $60,000 for Feeding Bears
In another bear case, a woman living near the town of Whistler, British Columbia, has been handed a bill for $60,000 in combined fines for feeding black bears in the backyard of her rural home in the upscale community of Kadenwood.
A sow black bear with two cubs that were fed in Kadenwood were subsequently killed by provincial Conservation Office Service (COS) investigating agents in 2018 because the bears were displaying “very troubling” behavior at the scene.
According to a report by the Pique Newsmagazine, a 2018 complaint about feeding bears was made to the COS, and they began investigating Zuzana Stevikova. Authorities learned Stevikova was buying “bulk produce, including up to 10 cases of apples, 50 pounds of carrots, and up to 15 dozen eggs” to feed the bears near her home.
In Sept. 2018 COS investigating officers saw carrots and apples strewn about the property and five black bears were observed. They witnessed Stevikova calling the bears by name.
“Some people started fearing for their safety, and found themselves unexpectedly and uncomfortably close to the bears,” Provincial Court Judge Lyndsay Smith said regarding Stevikova’s sentencing fine made on Oct. 1, 2021.
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The $60,000 fine was made under British Columbia’s Wildlife Act—the largest ever for such an offense.
Sgt. Simon Gravel with the COS posted a statement Oct. 1, with the hope that the large fine will “deter others from similar activity.”
“The primary concern of the COS is public safety,” he wrote in the post. “Illegally feeding or placing attractants to lure dangerous wildlife, such as bears, is an extremely dangerous activity. Once bears learn to associate humans with food, it creates a public safety risk.”