A wayward adult male bear that attracted lots attention—and a nickname—from social media users during his multi-state trip to Missouri has been safely re-located out of harm's way, according to the state department of conservation.
"Bruno," who is from as far away as Wisconsin, was sedated near St. Charles., Mo., and transported to more suitable habitat on Sunday. The bear was first spotted in Missouri near Elsberry in Lincoln County on June 30, and then made his way into St. Charles County. He was spotted the morning of July 5 in the Wentzville city limits, having cornered itself just north of I-70 and near I-40/61.
The bear is suspected to have travelled from Wisconsin, through Illinois, and then into Missouri.
"The bear found itself in a tough spot, stuck by several major roadways," Missouri Department of Conservation Furbearer Biologist Laura Conlee said in a news release. "Due to the proximity to the roadways, coupled with the busy travel day, MDC staff determined the bear had little chance of safely leaving the area on its own. In the interest of public safety and the bear's safety, MDC staff made the decision to immobilize the bear and transport it to a nearby area of suitable bear habitat outside this urban corridor."
MDC Protection Captain Scott Corley credited the St. Charles County and Wentzville police departments for their support and assistance, including managing the crowd of around 400 people who gathered at the scene.
Specially trained state wildlife staff made sure the animal was safe throughout the event. State Wildlife Veterinarian Dr. Sherri Russel monitored the bear’s condition. The bear was released unharmed after it awoke.
"MDC does not generally immobilize dispersing bears and will only take this action as a last resort. Given the bear's location and safety considerations, staff on scene determined this was necessary and the situation allowed for it to be done," according to an MDC statement.
Conlee said bears can travel long distances, though it’s not common. There have been frequent bear reports in the south half of the state, where the beat population is estimated to be between 540 and 840, the MDC says. The state population is growing at 9 percent per year, and more bear sightings in urban areas are expected in the future.
According to the MDC, Bruno's story attracted thousands of users on social media. The multiple Facebook pages created for Bruno—including one named “Leave Bruno the Bear Alone”—had a combined total of more than 120,000 followers.