'Hank the Tank' bear who broke into 21 homes around Tahoe taken to Colorado sanctuary

ByLena Howland KGO logo
Wednesday, August 9, 2023
Bear who broke into 21 homes around Tahoe relocated to Colorado
Last week, a bear that's been breaking into homes in the Tahoe area was captured and sent to a Colorado sanctuary.

SOUTH LAKE TAHOE, Calif. (KGO) -- Last week, a bear that's been breaking into homes in the Tahoe area was captured.

That now infamous bear is known as "Hank the Tank."

DNA evidence has tied "Hank" to break-ins at 21 homes, from the beginning of 2022 through just recently.

"Hank," who actually happens to be a female, has three cubs that were also captured.

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The California Department of Fish and Wildlife captured "Hank" on Friday for an evaluation. They are identifying her as 64F.

By Monday, the bear was picked up by The Wild Animal Sanctuary all the way from Springfield, Colorado and arrived on Tuesday.

This comes after no other sanctuary in California had room.

Fish and wildlife officials say relocation is not typically an option for conflict animals, over concern that relocating an animal will relocate the same behavior to a different community.

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But, because of public interest and the risk of a serious incident involving this bear, they went with an alternative plan.

"Based on assessments of our veterinary staff, as well as our biologists, she has no fear of humans anymore, and she does not exhibit that she's scared of humans or human dwellings or human garbage," said Jordan Traverso, a spokesperson for the California Department of Fish and Wildlife. "And so, not being a candidate for rehabilitation means that she'll be living out the rest of her life in that sanctuary environment. The cubs however, potentially could go back and be re-released into the wild."

They say "Hank" was separated from her cubs because officials say she is not a candidate for rehabilitation.

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"Because there was such a rap sheet, if you will, for her and she had these three cubs," Traverso said. "Then, on July 21, one of the cubs was hit by a vehicle, and so we knew that we needed to get some kind of an assessment done of the situation. We did not want her teaching these cubs how to break into homes and we wanted to see if this cub was going to be alright."

As for her three cubs, they were taken to the Sonoma County Wildlife Rescue, just outside of Petaluma, on Friday.

That's a rehabilitation center where there is no human-bear interaction.

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"The reason is that bears need to have a natural fear of humans so that they don't get closer to our houses and our garages and our orchards and all things," Traverso said. "They need to stay away in order to stay safe and really, that's what the rehabilitation is all about."

When and where their potential re-release is is still up in the air at this point but Traverso says that is certainly the hope.

Fish and Wildlife officials are also using this as an opportunity to remind folks who live in and visit Tahoe to get a Bear Box and don't leave anything that can smell like trash or barbecue outside.

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