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Missouri conservation officials move ‘Bruno’ to ‘suitable habitat’

Roaming black bear had become social media star
Bruno and Sheri Russel.jpg
Posted at 7:34 PM, Jul 06, 2020
and last updated 2020-07-06 20:34:44-04

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — A roaming black bear nicknamed “Bruno,” who became a social media star after his journey from Wisconsin to Missouri, was sedated and transported away from suburban St. Louis “to suitable habitat,” according to the Missouri Department of Conservation.

Wildlife experts believe “Bruno” has been on the move in search of new territory, but conservationists also became concerned when he strayed into populated areas.

He also had been spotted in Illinois during his journey south and was first spotted June 30 in Missouri, according to the Missouri Department of Conservation.

“MDC conservation agents say the bear appeared within the city Limits of Wentzville the morning of July 5 and cornered himself just north of I-70 and near I-40/61,” the department said Monday in a release.

More than 400 onlookers gathered to see “Bruno,” who was removed from the area by Conservation staff with help from the St. Charles County Sheriff’s Office and Wentzville Police Department.

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

The black bear’s presence in Wentzville is a bit unusual, though not unprecedented, according to Missouri conservation officials.

The department estimates there are 540 to 840 black bears in Missouri, primarily in the southern part of the state, and that the state’s bear population is growing roughly 9% per year.

As the population grows, more have been venturing near the St. Louis area.