'Crazy day': Black bear collides with, swipes runner in Yosemite National Park


You would think running 50 mountainous miles would be enough of a challenge. But just before finishing his run Sunday night in Yosemite National Park, Jon-Kyle Mohr had a collision – with a large black bear.

With less than a mile remaining in his run on a day when temperatures in the park hit 107 degrees, Mohr saw a large dark shape coming at him, then felt "some sharpness," in his shoulder, he told the Los Angeles Times Monday.

Next came a shove that sent the ultrarunner careening in the dark. When he collected himself, Mohr turned to see headlamps and hear people shouting, "Bear!" the Times reported.

Mohr told the Times that his watch indicated he had begun his run from his home in June Lake in California's eastern Sierra Nevada mountains, 15 hours and 59 minutes before the encounter. He was less than a mile from his planned finish in Yosemite Valley.

“It was just a really strange, random collision,” he told the Times. “If I had rested my feet for 20 seconds longer at any point over the 16 hours, it wouldn’t have happened.”

A black bear is pictured roaming around in White Plains, New York.
A black bear is pictured roaming around in White Plains, New York.

California man responds when he saw bear 'coming back at me'

Bears have become "very active" in Yosemite Valley, often searching for ripening berries to munch, the National Park Service says in an online notice. So far in 2024, Yosemite National Park lists 10 bear incidents after recording 38 in 2023.

Yosemite National Park biologists had tagged and placed a GPS radio collar on a bear Sunday morning after it found food at the Cathedral Beach picnic area in the park, Yosemite National Park spokesman Scott Gediman told USA TODAY in a statement.

Then, at about 9 p.m., the bear found a bag of trash in the Upper Pines Campground and ran with it onto Happy Isles Road when he collided with a trail runner, Gediman said, adding that "biologists do not consider this encounter to be a predatory attack."

With bear activity being high this time of year, campers must properly store food and trash and give wildlife space to keep people and bears safe, Gediman said. "Black bears are constantly looking for food and generally try to avoid people," he said.

If you encounter a bear, the National Park Services recommends gathering whoever is with you into a group and making noise, yelling "as loudly and aggressively as possible at the bear until it leaves."

Don't approach or chase the bear or throw anything at it. "If visitors encounter a bear in a developed area, act immediately and scare it away by yelling aggressively and loudly until it leaves," Gediman said.

That type of response helped Mohr. His collision with the bear knocked a bag of garbage from its mouth and the bear "was coming back at me," he told the Times.

Mohr, 33, started yelling and hitting his running poles on the pavement, he said. People in a nearby campground also began shouting and created a clamor by banging pots and pans, he said.

Their collective efforts drove off the bear. When he checked his body, Mohr said he had two substantial and bloody scratches; the bear had torn through his hoodie and shirt, also ripping some holes in his running vest.

Mist from the base of Bridalveil Fall on Thursday, May 25, 2023 gathers behind trees in Yosemite National Park.
Mist from the base of Bridalveil Fall on Thursday, May 25, 2023 gathers behind trees in Yosemite National Park.

Medics arrived in an ambulance and bandaged him up, but Mohr didn't go to a hospital.

Park rangers told Mohr the bear had been tranquilized Sunday morning and fitted with a tracking collar. “It sounds like the bear and I had equally crazy days,” Mohr told the Times.

Less than 24 hours after the attack, Mohr told the Times he felt lucky, saying the bear “if it seriously wanted to inflict any kind of actual harm, it totally could have.”

Follow Mike Snider on X and Threads: @mikesnider & mikegsnider.

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This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Man collides with bear while running in Yosemite National Park