WENTZVILLE, Mo. (News Nation/KTVI) – A bear migrating from Wisconsin to Missouri that has gained a social media following was tranquilized due to safety concerns, according to local authorities.
The Missouri Department of Conservation announced Monday that the bear named Bruno was sedated after being cornered north of Interstates 70 and 40 in Wentzville, about 40 miles west of St. Louis. Around 400 people had gathered at the scene.
“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 agency said. “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.”
The bear was released unharmed after it woke up outside an area that the department determined was a “suitable bear habitat.” The Missouri Department of Conservation said they don’t typically tranquilize bears, but Bruno was in an area that could have been potentially dangerous.
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 increasing ursine population.
Bruno was first seen in Wisconsin on May 10, then crossed into Illinois a month later and was last seen in Missouri. The Elsberry Police Department said Bruno passed through the town roughly 25 miles north of Wentzville on July 1.
The Missouri Department of Conservation said it’s not uncommon for bears to travel across the state.