Black bear Bruno

Wildlife veterinarian Dr. Sherri Russel monitors the condition of the bear named “Bruno’ by social media after the animal was sedated on July 5. The bear was then safely transported and released unharmed to suitable habitat outside the urban area.

A black bear named “Bruno” by social media pages was sedated and transported to suitable habitat by the Missouri Department of Conservation this month.

The adult male bear who attracted public attention and was dubbed “Bruno” by those watching his trek, has been sedated and transported to a suitable habitat outside an urban area.

Laura Conlee, furbearer biologist, said the roving bear is suspected to have traveled several states.

The bear is believed to have traveled from Wisconsin, through Illinois and into Missouri. He was first spotted in Missouri near Elsberry on June 30, after which he made his way into St. Charles County.

Department staff received reports of the bear as he continued to travel through Missouri.

Conservation agents said the bear appeared within the city limits of Wentzville on the morning of July 5 and cornered himself just north of Interstate 70 and near Interstate 40/61.

MDC Protection Captain Scott Corley credited the St. Charles County and Wentzville police departments for their assistance in tracking the bear. There was a crowd of more than 400 onlookers who gathered at the scene.

“The bear found itself in a tough spot and stuck by several major roadways,” Conlee said. “Due to 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, staff made the decision to immobilize the bear and transport it to a nearby area of suitable bear habitat outside this urban corridor.”

Department staff, specially trained in wildlife handling, successfully sedated the bear. The bear’s condition was monitored by the conservation department’s State Wildlife Veterinarian Dr. Sherri Russel. The bear was safely transported to an area of suitable habitat outside the urban area and was released unharmed when he awoke.

Conlee said the department generally does not immobilize roving 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.

Conlee said that even though this bear’s movements are a bit out of the norm, bears can travel large distances.

The department frequently receives reports of bears throughout the southern half of Missouri where the agency estimates there are between 540 and 840 bears.

She said Missouri’s bear population is growing approximately 9% annually and dispersing bears have appeared in the greater St. Louis area before, which is a trend that is likely to continue with the growing bear population.

The bear had attracted extensive attention on social media, having multiple Facebook pages created for it and a combined total of more than 120,000 followers.

Margaret Slayton can be reached at margaret.slayton@newspressnow.com.