It has been a long time in coming, said Wyoming Game and Fish Department law enforcement officer, Brian Nesvik. The sentence reflects the seriousness of this case.
A woman from Illinois is going to jail for photographing grizzly bears at Yellowstone National Park. The sentence comes as a result of her lack of understanding about how dangerous these animals can be. In an interview with the Chicago Tribune, she stated that she was able to get close enough to take pictures because she had no fear around them. She also mentioned that it was not uncommon for people to feed them through their car windows or even stop on the side of the road and walk up close! Luckily for us all, this behavior will now come to an end.
Her court date was on December 1, 2016 She plead guilty to the charge of a willful attempt to violate a regulation of the United States Department of the interior by approaching within 50 feet (or in this case, getting her car only 10 feet away) of wildlife within Yellowstone National Park, a Class A misdemeanor. She was sentenced to six months in jail and a fine of $1,000. The judge also ordered that she not be allowed to come near the park again for five years.
In this case, because YNP did not have their regional supervisor on duty at the time, who typically issues citations, they used the local US Attorney’s office. The authorities had contacted her three different times about the violations and even warned her, but she continued to ignore them.
On May 19th, 2016 at approximately 2:45 PM rangers with YNP responded to a report of four people illegally photographing and videotaping grizzly bears in the park. This was at the Fairy Falls trailhead area. Upon arrival, one of them was identified as Allyn Atadero from Illinois. She had two of her children with her, ages 9 and 14. They were close enough to see the bears that they still had their safety harnesses on. The kids are not being charged because they were unaware of what their mother was doing.
Unfortunately, Yellowstone is not the only place where this sort of thing happens – people with no common sense have been taking photos with bears for a long time all taken. It’s just what some people do they see an animal and feel the need to try to get as close as possible, even if it means breaking park rules or federal laws. These actions put the animal and human life at risk.
These factors, in addition to the fact that Atadero was aware of what she was doing were all taken into consideration by the judge. However, this is not what she said in her interview with the Chicago Tribune; rather, she stated that it wasn’t uncommon for people to feed them through their car windows or even stop on the side of the road and walk up close! Atadero also mentioned that rangers have been relentless in their effort to cite her. That is very true.
She was originally issued a federal citation of $325 on July 22, 2015, for the same type of violation. Since then she has been cited twice more on August 7, 2015, and May 16th of this year [ed. note: see all cases below]. The judge also ordered that Atadero not be allowed to come near the park again for five years. It is good to know that she won’t be coming back, but it’s hard to say if this will stop others from doing the same thing.
Atadero was ordered by the judge to report immediately to begin her sentence in jail so she can think about what she has done.