Things That Matter

California 500-lb Bear ‘Hank the Tank’ Is On The Loose, And He Just Broke Into 2 More Homes

In news we were not expecting today, there’s a 500-lb black bear that keeps breaking into homes around California’s Tahoe Keys area of South Lake Tahoe — and residents are at a loss.

Nicknamed “Hank the Tank,” the bear has already entered at least 28 homes, and caused damage to 33 properties total. A notable fact? Hank the Tank has not attacked humans or pets, and is likely just looking for food (if he got a whiff of guava pastelitos or tacos al pastor, we get it).

As per the South Lake Tahoe Police Department, Hank the Tank broke into two more homes just this past weekend. He entered the first home on Friday, going through a small window when no one was there.

Police officers got him out by banging on the outside of the house until he left through the back door (nuestro amigo Hank seems pretty civilized). Police believe he also entered another home on Saturday, breaking the front door. 

There’s no doubt residents of the South Lake Tahoe area are scared to come into contact with the bear, because no one wants to find themselves in “The Revenant.”

Police have received more than 100 reports of seeing Hank the Tank roam around, with a general sentiment of worry and concern as people “inundate” their phone lines. In fact, a recent Facebook post by the department tells residents: “Please stop calling SLTPD dispatch to voice your opinion about Hank… [it’s] taking away from their ability to handle actual emergency calls.”

As the police department called Hank their “big bear friend,” so far, it seems like he’s just a gentle giant. In fact, a new video shows him just walking around a family’s backyard as they relax around their hot tub — and he barely even looks at them. 

Most people are simply concerned about what to do with Hank the Tank, and make sure that he is protected, safe, and can live out his life out of harm’s way.

South Lake Tahoe Police said, “our local wildlife agencies are working together to find the best option for Hank.” They continued, “they are searching for an option that will be good for Hank’s mental/physical health, and the safety of our local residents.” While some people have called to have him tragically killed, police said “no one wants to see him euthanized.” 

Wildlife department information officer Peter Tira says Hank the Tank simply breaks into homes when in hyperphagia, a time when bears need to add a massive amount of calories to their diets in order to survive their hibernation in the winter.

Meanwhile, the black bear isn’t scared of people anymore. Tira told CBS, “this is a severely food habituated bear. What that means is this is a bear that has lost all fear of people and it sees people and homes as a source of food.”

It still is best for both Hank the Tank and the neighborhood to find a solution: as per Tira, it isn’t safe for the bear to walk around a town populated with “traffic and cars.”

An online petition is already floating around to make sure Hank the Tank is not euthanized, with people calling for a relocation or transferring the bear to a facility instead. The BEAR League group is offering to pay all related expenses to transfer Hank to an “excellent out-of-state wildlife sanctuary” that would be “very willing to give this bear a permanent home.” Still, the move could surely affect Hank the Tank, and no decision will come without a price.

For now, Hank the Tank hasn’t been seen again, and the wildlife department will begin to think about relocation if they’re able to capture him. 

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