Famed 400-Pound Bear ‘Hank the Tank’ Finally Captured in South Lake Tahoe

Wildlife officials successfully immobilized and apprehended the notorious 400-pound black bear known as “Hank the Tank” in South Lake Tahoe. After a year-long string of incidents, the bear was finally cornered and tranquilized on Friday morning, marking an end to its prolific thieving spree.

According to the California Department of Fish and Wildlife, Hank the Tank was implicated in at least 21 DNA-confirmed home break-ins and extensive property damage in the Tahoe Keys neighborhood since early 2022. The brazen bear’s crime spree left residents on edge, as it ripped off screen doors, rummaged through garbage bins, and even scratched up cars.

Initial reports suggested that Hank was a single male bear, but visual observations during the series of incidents indicated that there were multiple culprits. The bear captured on Friday turned out to be a female, known to the state as 64F. State wildlife authorities clarified that all of the bears responsible for the break-ins were essentially “Hank the Tank.”

This exceptionally large female bear, accompanied by her three cubs, wreaked havoc in the community, displaying remarkable dexterity in opening doors and accessing refrigerators for an easy feast. Her cubs were also caught during the operation and will be rehabilitated at the Sonoma County Wildlife Rescue before being released back into the wild.

As for Hank herself, she will be transported to the Wild Animal Sanctuary in Colorado, where she will reside in a 300-acre habitat reminiscent of her California home. Gov. Jared Polis of Colorado welcomed Hank to the state on social media, saying she “turned out to be Henrietta the Tank.”

While most problem bears are euthanized, state officials opted for an alternative solution for Hank due to the widespread interest in her case. The California Department of Fish and Wildlife hopes to see wild animals remain wild forever, emphasizing the importance of securing garbage, picking up fallen fruit, and refraining from using bird feeders in areas inhabited by bears.

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