Giant bear 'Hank the Tank' burglarizes another Lake Tahoe home; dozens of break-ins since July

Gloria Rodríguez Image
Tuesday, February 22, 2022
Where should Hank the Tank go? Officials discuss relocating Tahoe bear
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ABC7 News reporter Gloria Rodriguez spoke with state officials and a nonprofit group trying relocate Hank, the enormous bear breaking into Lake Tahoe homes.

SOUTH LAKE TAHOE, Calif. (KGO) -- Hank the Tank, a big bear notorious for wreaking havoc in residential neighborhoods, has hit another home in Lake Tahoe.

The 500-pound bear is known in the area for breaking into homes and eating people's food. Now, being blamed for dozens of break-ins since last July.

"This is what we call a severely habituated bear, meaning this bear has lost all fear of people and it is associating people with food and food sources," Peter Tira with the California Dept. of Fish and Wildlife said.

VIDEO: Giant bear 'Hank the Tank' breaks into another Lake Tahoe home

Police say he carried out his most recent break-in by entering a home through a window. They say officers banged on the outside of the home until Hank popped out of the back door.

"It's really scary because we use to be able to go on walks and bike rides by ourselves but it's become a bigger problem," said resident Olivia Philip.

"So now we bring the bear horn whenever we go on walks or bike rides," said Samantha Philip.

The BEAR League, a nonprofit wildlife rescue group, does not want Hank to be killed. But rather, taken to a sanctuary. Executive director Ann Bryant says a sanctuary in Colorado will take him in.

RELATED: CA wildlife officials plan to trap, euthanize 500-pound Black bear in Lake Tahoe

"It's extremely frustrating to imagine with these other options to save his life that the threat is always looming over that you know he could be killed," Bryant said. "We can't sit back and just accept that. It's not tolerable, you know. To kill him is going to send a message to the public that the Department of Wildlife doesn't think his life is worth anything, that he's just a nuisance. He's a pest."

The Dept. has set traps in the area in hope of catching the big bear, but they have since been removed after a public outcry. They say authorities have responded to over 150 calls about Hank- including emergency calls where people are fearful for their safety.

Both the California Dept. of Fish and Wildlife and BEAR League agree Hank needs to be taken off the streets, but how that'll happen, is not clear.

VIDEO: Bear breaks into California home, eats KFC on kitchen counter

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