ST. LOUIS — Have you heard of Bruno the black bear?
Social media users say he’s been making his way across the country, and they’ve been documenting his journey.
Two Facebook groups have been created to follow Bruno and keep tabs on his whereabouts.
One is called “Keeping Bruno Safe” and has more than 20,000 members. The other group called “Leave Bruno the Black Bear Alone” has more than 2,000 members.
On Tuesday, he made his way into Missouri, according to posts made in one of the groups. On Thursday, someone shared a post that said Bruno was on Highway P in Elsberry. A few people shared videos of a black bear in that area.
One person shared a video of a bear swimming in the Mississippi River with a caption that said “Bruno swimming to Missouri" and it has more than 150,000 views.
After Bruno was spotted in Elsberry, agents with the Missouri Department of Conservation (MDC) and Elsberry police responded and confirmed he was in the area.
Dan Zarlenga, with MDC, said Bruno went into a cornfield. They looked for him for a few hours but couldn't find him after that. Zarlenga said the fields along the Mississippi provide good sources of food and coverage for the bear.
Zarlenga also said the most recent sighting of Bruno was just after 1:30 p.m. on Thursday near Highway 79 south of Elsberry and north of Foley.
Several people have shared their concerns for Bruno as they follow his journey.
"Can’t he be tranquilized and taken to his natural habitat? I’m worried he is going to be harmed😢," one person wrote on Facebook.
"From what I'm reading male black bears usually only travel 126 miles. I hope he's ok," said another.
Zarlenga said it is currently illegal to hunt, shoot or kill a black bear in Missouri. But, if there is any immediate danger or threat, a person can shoot and kill a bear.
He also said even though bears do travel pretty far, this seems like an “awful long way for a bear to travel.”
And what should you do if you spot Bruno?
“Keep your distance. Don’t do anything to harass or provoke the bear. Don’t try get a selfie with it or anything," Zarlenga said. "Do not approach it and you will most likely be OK. If it shows up in your yard you can spray water on it or shine lights on it whatever to get it out of your yard."
"If you see Bruno be glad you saw it. Take a picture from a distance, but do not try to approach it."
Where will Bruno go next? Click here to follow his journey.
Facts about black bears
- Live in heavily wooded areas and in the summer they sleep in trees or on the ground.
- Eat a variety of food including grass, seeds, nuts, ants, bees and their honey, fish and frogs.
- Mate in May or June, go into hibernation in October or November and their young are born in late January or February – sometimes while the mother is still sleeping.
- Becoming increasingly common in Missouri and are expanding their range. Common in the southern third of the state
- Shuffle, walk, run and gallop
- Leave several distinctive marks on trees
Click here to learn more about black bears.
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