ST. CHARLES — “Bruno,” the adult male bear who became a social media star, has been sedated and transported to suitable habitat outside the St. Louis area, according to the Missouri Department of Conservation.
In a press release, the MDC said the bear made its way into Missouri after traveling through Wisconsin and Illinois. He was first spotted in Elsberry on June 30 before venturing into St. Charles County. The MDC continued to receive reports of the bear as it traveled farther into Missouri.
Conservation agents say the bear appeared within the city limits of Wentzville, west of St. Louis, the morning of July 5 and cornered himself just north of I-70 and near I-40/61.
“The bear found itself in a tough spot, stuck by several major roadways,” MDC State Furbearer Biologist Laura Conlee said in the 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.”
The MDC does not generally immobilize 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.
Staff specially trained in wildlife handling sedated the bear under and its condition was under supervision by MDC State Veterinarian Sherri Russel. The bear was released unharmed when he awoke.
Conlee said that although Bruno’s movements are slightly out of the norm, bears can travel large distances and the MDC frequently receives reports of bears throughout the southern half of Missouri. MDC estimates there are between 540-840 in the state’s growing bear population. Sightings are not that uncommon in the St. Louis region. Around 9% of the state’s bear population appear in the greater St. Louis area annually.
Bruno gained a large social media presence as multiple Facebook pages were created for it and earned a combined total of more than 120,000 followers.