Hank the Tank, a 400-Pound Bear Behind Lake Tahoe Break-Ins, Is Captured

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One of the most notorious thieves in the South Lake Tahoe, California area has finally been apprehended. State officials confirmed that a 400-pound black bear, known to the public as Hank the Tank, has been “safely immobilized” with a tranquilizer dart. The bear was responsible for a series of home break-ins and extensive property damage in the Tahoe Keys dating back to early 2022. The California Department of Fish and Wildlife stated that the captured bear will be transported to an animal sanctuary in Colorado this week.

Initially, residents believed that Hank the Tank was a single male bear based on visual observations made during the break-ins in 2021. However, the bear captured on Friday was actually a female bear known as 64F. It turns out that there are three bears responsible for the break-ins that had been attributed to Hank. Jordan Traverso, spokesperson for the department, commented that they all technically are ‘Hank the Tank.’ The other bears have not caused any problems this year in Tahoe Keys, a gated community located about 190 miles northeast of San Francisco.

This particular female bear, also known as Hank, was exceptionally large, according to state wildlife authorities. For over a year, she terrorized the community by damaging property, ransacking houses, rummaging through garbage bins, climbing stairs, and scratching up cars. At one point, Hank even ripped off siding from a home to access it from underneath. Bears are incredibly adept with their hands and are capable of opening latches and doors. They are also familiar with what refrigerators contain.

The average black bear in the Western United States weighs between 100 and 300 pounds, but Hank’s size was exceptional. She quickly learned that ransacking homes and rummaging through trash cans provided her with thousands of calories. Hank was accompanied by her three cubs during the recent break-ins, and all of them were captured on Friday. The state wildlife department plans to send the cubs to the Sonoma County Wildlife Rescue for rehabilitation, with the intention of releasing them back into the wild.

As for their mother, she will be relocated to the Wild Animal Sanctuary near Springfield, Colorado. The sanctuary provides a 300-acre habitat that closely resembles the environment the bear was familiar with in California. Pat Craig, the founder and executive director of the sanctuary, mentioned that the only difference is that they deliver the food for her. The governor of Colorado, Jared Polis, welcomed Hank to the state on social media, referring to her as “Henrietta the Tank.”

Hank’s case is considered rare as most “problem bears” are euthanized. According to Craig, anywhere from 300 to close to 1,000 bears are put down each year in the United States. The California Department of Fish and Wildlife decided to pursue an alternative solution for the bear due to the widespread interest in her.

However, officials emphasized the importance of keeping wild animals wild. Jordan Traverso urged residents living near bear-inhabited areas to secure their garbage, pick up fallen fruit, and refrain from using bird feeders. Humans are the controllable factor in these situations, and taking necessary precautions can help minimize conflicts between humans and wildlife.

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