A black bear named Bruno has become an unlikely social media star as he travels across the country looking for love.
Bruno reportedly began his summer odyssey in Wisconsin in June, and has since walked more than 400 miles through Illinois, Iowa and Missouri – and he’s believed to be searching for a mate.
Fans created a Facebook group called ‘Keeping Bruno Safe’ on June 19 that now boasts more than 46,000 members keeping track of his travels.
Bruno was last spotted on Sunday morning in St Charles County, Missouri, after crossing the Mississippi River from southern Illinois last week.
Bruno the black bear has become an unlikely social media star by traveling more than 400 miles across four states while looking for a mate
Over Father’s Day weekend last month, more than 300 people in Illinois’ Henderson County gathered to watch, follow and, in some cases, harass the bear – prompting concerns from wildlife officials.
‘Certainly, the more pressure is put on the bear, the more likely we’ll see an adverse outcome,’ Capt Laura Petreikis of the Illinois Conservation Police said in a statement.
‘As is always the case, we want to ensure the safety of both people and animals. If we continue to see situations like we saw this past weekend, Conservation Police will issue tickets and make arrests to ensure the safety of both the public and the bear.’
The Illinois Department of Natural Resources has been working with local authorities to help Bruno cross busy roads without putting himself or drivers in danger, according to the agency.
Over Father’s Day weekend last month, more than 300 people in Illinois’ Henderson County gathered to watch Bruno – prompting concerns from wildlife officials
The Illinois Department of Natural Resources has been working with local authorities to help Bruno cross busy roads without putting himself or drivers in danger, according to the agency
Stefanie Fitzsimons, district wildlife biologist of INDR, said Bruno likely launched the journey in search of a mate, and urged anyone who spots him to remain at least 100 yards away.
‘For the most part, we’ve not seen conflicts between the public and bear until recently and, unfortunately, those conflicts were caused entirely by people,’ Fitzsimons said in a statement.
‘It’s a novelty to see a bear in Illinois, and people want to see it for themselves, but they must remember that the outcome for this bear – whether IDNR must step in and take action to protect public safety – is completely dependent on how the public react to it.
‘If the bear is left alone, it can continue its journey safely on its own.’
Wildlife officials have warned anyone who comes across Bruno to stay at least 100 years away. Illinois State Police have offered several updates on his location in recent weeks
Black bear sightings are especially uncommon in Illinois, where only about 14.7 percent of the landscape is suitable for their survival.
Only a handful of sightings have been reported in the past decade, per the Outdoor Illinois Wildlife Journal.
Bruno’s name is believed to be a nod to a famous animal actor who starred in the 1960s TV show Gentle Ben, as well as The Life and Times of Judge Roy Bean and Mara of the Wilderness.
The IDNR and North American Wildlife and Habitat agency are monitoring Bruno with help from local authorities and tips from concerned citizens.
Bruno’s name is a nod to a famous animal actor who starred in the 1960s TV show Gentle Ben (pictured), as well as The Life and Times of Judge Roy Bean and Mara of the Wilderness