Black Bear Responsible for 21 Home Burglaries Relocated

Black bear Hank was proving to be a real crook with his list of home invasions growing by the day. Hank the Tank, a large black bear behind at least 21 home break-ins in South Lake Tahoe, recently arrived at a Colorado wildlife sanctuary. She was captured along with three other cubs by California officials.

The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) shifted the bear to The Wild Animal Sanctuary after a veterinary examination. Pat Craig, executive director of the sanctuary, said: “Hank arrived at 11:30 today and will live in a 230-acre natural habitat at our southeast Colorado facility known as The Wild Animal Refuge.”

“That facility is a 10,000-acre refuge for rescued wildlife, and Tank will live there for the rest of her life. The Refuge is as close to the same environment she came from, with her habitat being a completely forested space with pine trees, ponds and food provided daily. She will live with other rescued Black bears.”

In a tweet, Governor Jared Polis announced: “Today, wildlife biologists for the @CaliforniaDFW captured a large female black bear, who will be transferred to @animalsanctuary upon a one-time permission from @COParksWildlife and @coagriculture1. We welcome “Hank the Tank” (turned out to be Henrietta the Tank) to Colorado!”

Bear 64F became known as Hank the Tank after a series of break-ins in South Lake Tahoe. DNA results confirmed that at least two other bears were involved in the break-ins, which resulted in serious property damage and over 150 calls to the police.

The three young cubs have been at the location of the newest break-in. One of the cubs got injured in a car accident and has been receiving veterinary care.

Wildlife officials are planning to release the animals to the wild after rehabilitation at Sonoma County Wildlife Rescue in Petaluma.

CDFW spokesperson Jordan Traverso said: “The cubs were safely transported to Sonoma County Wildlife Rescue. The goal is to rehabilitate them. The time that can take varies. They will continue to be assessed to make sure they’ll make it in the wild before they would be released.”

Wildlife officials attached an ear tag and satellite tracking collar to Hank. Her three male cubs were also microchipped. Even though Hank’s tracking collar fell off in May, DNA evidence confirmed her presence at 21 home invasions.

“Relocation is not typically an option for conflict animals over concern that relocating an animal will relocate the conflict behavior to a different community,” CDFW said. “However, given the widespread interest in this bear, and the significant risk of a serious incident involving the bear, CDFW is employing an alternative solution to safeguard the bear family as well as the people in the South Lake Tahoe community.”

“There are lots of other bears in Tahoe. Many have likely had incidents in campgrounds and homes,” Traverso said.

“The bottom line is that humans need to do better at securing garbage, picking up fruit that has fallen from trees, putting barbecues away and eliminating all attractants for wild animals, including bears. If humans behaved better in this way, these situations could be avoided, and bears would have a natural fear of humans and their dwellings.”