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Hank the Tank, a 500-Pound Bear, Ransacks Lake Tahoe and Has Yet to be Captured

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The homes around Lake Tahoe are not safe from any normal kind of intruder. A 500-pound black bear has been making its way around the area for more than seven months and has struck again recently.

The giant bear, known by residents as Hank the Tank, has damaged more than 30 properties around Lake Tahoe, and last week broke into yet another home, as he is on an endless quest for a quick meal.

Peter Tira, spokesman for the California Department of Fish and Wildlife, told SF Gate, “What’s problematic about this bear is how large it is. It’s learned to use that size and strength to break into a number of occupied residences, bursting through the garage door or front door. It’s pretty frightening.”

While the latest break-in took place on Feb. 18, it appears that Hank the Tank is responsible for more than 150 incident reports in the area straddling Northern California and Nevada, officials said. 

For the latest break-in, Hank smashed a window and ended up squeezing his way into the home while the residents were at home! Police responded to the call and banged on the outside of the house until the bear exited out the back door and disappeared into the woods, yet again.

Because of the bear’s actions, Tira said Hank is a “severely food habituated bear” that has “lost all fear of people” and actually considers humans to be a food source for him. That means when they do capture Hank, he would need to be relocated to accredited facilities, like zoos or wildlife sanctuaries.

Tira said, “You relocate it to the wilderness and they starve because they’re not used to hunting for food.”

DNA was collected from the latest break-in, which officials are hoping to use to make a match, if and when they capture the bear.

A meeting was held last week by a homeowners association and they agreed to let state wildlife personnel attempt to capture the bear. They have made previous trapping efforts, but they have not worked in the residential area, where the bear has become acclimated.

Of course, no one wants to see the bear killed. Joby Cefalu, a board member with the homeowners association, told the Los Angeles Times, “Nobody on our board took lightly the situation of depredation. We’re meant to coexist. Unfortunately, this is a human problem.”

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