'Bruno' the bear tranquilized in Missouri after 400-mile hike; Transported to safety

The Missouri Department of Conservation says the bear will finally get to be a bear again and not a social media celebrity.

Sam Masterson
July 07, 2020 - 10:50 am

WENTZVILLE, Mo. (KFTK) - The well-documented trek of "Bruno" the black bear from Wisconsin to Missouri came to an end on Sunday. The Missouri Department of Conservation made the call saying "the bear had little chance of safely leaving the area on its own" when it got itself stuck between major highways in the St. Louis area. 

The MDC shared a photo of Bruno laying down and sedated with MDC staff specially trained in wildlife handling the animal. 

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It was cornered just north of I-70 and near I-40/61 and the MDC says a crowd of more than 400 onlookers watched the bear be taken down and transported to a safer area. The MDC did not say where exactly the bear was taken. 

"The bear found itself in a tough spot, stuck by several major roadways," said MDC State Furbearer Biologist Laura Conlee.  “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."

Bruno's travels were followed by more than 120,000 people on multiple Facebook pages that were created for its protection. 

MDC Protection Captain Scott Corley credited the St. Charles County and Wentzville Police Departments with help during the sedation process. 

Corley says this bear’s movements are a bit out of the norm, but bears can traverse large distances and MDC frequently receives reports of bears throughout the southern half of Missouri where MDC estimates there are between 540-840 bears. Missouri’s bear population is growing approximately 9% annually and dispersing bears have appeared in the greater St. Louis area before, a trend that is likely to continue with the growing bear population.

Bruno was first spotted in Missouri near Elsberry on June 30, after which he made his way into St. Charles County.  MDC staff received reports of the bear as he continued to travel through Missouri.

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