A Yellowstone tourist got out of her car and walked toward a grizzly and cubs, video shows. Now she’s been charged.
The woman from Illinois was charged in U.S. District Court on Tuesday with feeding, touching, teasing, frightening or intentionally disturbing wildlife, according to court documents.
The charges come after the tourist was spotted on video posted May 12 standing within feet of a grizzly bear. It appears in the video she was taking photos or videos with her phone when the bear started to run toward her.
The woman gasped and walked away. Yellowstone park officials then investigated the incident.
“We’d like to emphasize the importance for people to stay in their vehicles if grizzlies with cubs are less than 100 yards away,” Yellowstone park officials told McClatchy News in a May 17 email. “The people in the video got out of their car to view a mother grizzly and two cubs that were much closer than 100 yards away.”
Yellowstone officials said animals within the park are wild and unpredictable. They can also be dangerous. Tourists should always stay about 300 feet away from bears and wolves, and about 75 feet away from other animals.
“Every year people are injured when they approach animals too closely, and animals that attack people may need to be killed,” park officials said.
Park officials didn’t say what kind of punishment there could be for getting too close to the grizzlies. The woman is set to appear in court Aug. 26.
The Billings Gazette, which first reported the charges, also reported the woman was charged with violating closures and use limits. Yellowstone officials have not returned McClatchy News’ request for confirmation on those charges.
Tourists have been sentenced to jail time for harassing wildlife in the past.
In 2018, an Oregon man was sentenced to 130 days in jail after he was seen on video taunting a bison that stopped traffic, the Associated Press reported. The man was also banned from Grand Teton, Yellowstone and Glacier national parks for five years.
Video shows the man getting out of his car, yelling and gesturing to the bison. The bison then charges toward the man.
“If you cause an animal to move, you’re too close,” park officials said. “It’s illegal to willfully remain near or approach wildlife, including birds, within any distance that disturbs or displaces the animal.”