MOREHOUSE PARISH, La. – A black bear named Bruno that gained fame after wandering hundreds of miles across several Midwest states has died in Louisiana, state wildlife officials said.
Bruno was severely injured — likely after getting hit by a vehicle — about a month ago and was euthanized Tuesday in Morehouse Parish, the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries said. He is believed to be 2 or 3 years old.
“He had been dragging himself, literally,” said Maria Davidson, large carnivore program manager for the agency. “He was in bad shape. It was rough.”
A homeowner called wildlife officials Tuesday about the 240-pound bear, which would not leave his property. Biologists arrived and discovered Bruno was distressed from suffering severe injuries about a month earlier, they estimated. His back legs were broken and he was paralyzed because of spinal injuries.
“If there is any way possible a bear can survive an injury, we assist by relocating the animal to a secluded area to give it a chance at survival,” Davidson said in a statement. “Unfortunately, this bear had injuries that would not have been survivable and the decision was made to humanely put it down.”
Bruno was an odd bear, biologists said. He traveled Wisconsin, Illinois, Iowa and swam the Mississippi River before he was tranquilized and relocated to Missouri after drawing a large crowd around him in the St. Louis suburbs. He was released in the Ozark Mountains and later tracked in Arkansas.
“It’s very, very, very rare for an adult bear like that to travel the distance he did. … It’s very strange behavior,” Davidson said.
Bruno seemed to prefer farm fields and groves to forests. He never went foraging through trash cans or bins.
It is unclear why he wandered so far and so frequently. Often younger bears travel in search of a mate. However, Bruno rambled year-round, not just during breeding season.
Bears wandering onto roads and getting hit by traffic cause 80% of the nearly 55 deaths in Louisiana each year, wildlife officials said.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.