Hank the Tank, the giant 500-pound black bear who stands accused of breaking into over 30 Lake Tahoe-area homes in search of food—often while the residents are still home—may actually be a three-bear operation. This is according to DNA evidence, KTLA reports.
This wasn’t a revelation amongst the bear community.
Bear expert Ann Bryant, director of the Bear League, a non-for-profit organization in the greater Lake Tahoe area working to keep people living in harmony with bears, said she knew all along that Hank was one of what she thought to be an estimated four bears.
With about 20 percent of Tahoe bears not hibernating, they’re looking for food all year long—and in all the wrong places.
The actual Hank wasn’t as destructive as his two counterparts, Bryant said: “The other bears were responsible for far more [damage].”
In fact, one of the three broke a window last Friday and got into a house. While a 500-pound bear entering a house through a window is a bit mind-boggling, it’s said if a bear’s head can fit through an opening, the rest of it can follow, no matter how large. The residents were home, and the police scared it away.
Fortunately, the Department of Fish and Game has scrapped plans to potentially euthanize the bears and is hoping instead to relocate them to a “suitable habitat.”
While Bryant had previously mentioned sending Hank to a bear sanctuary, she says that is no longer necessary now that euthanasia is off the table.
“That was only when they were going to kill him,” she said.
The Bear League doesn’t believe in relocation, Bryant said, but they’re talking with Fish and Game about how it could be done so that the bears don’t suffer. Relocating “nuisance bears” can cause problems, disorienting them and making it difficult to find food, as well as causing social conflict with the bears already living in their new habitat. A study found that some bears continued to engage in nuisance behavior at least once after being relocated.
Meanwhile, Hank & Co. remain at large.
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