Police searching for 500-pound bear named ‘Hank the Tank’

A bear dubbed ‘Hank the Tank’ by local police has broken into more than two dozen homes in California

A 500-pound bear nicknamed ‘Hank the Tank’ by local police has recently broken into more than two dozen homes in northern California, and US authorities have received over 150 calls about him. South Lake Tahoe Police and other officials have been attempting to capture the bear, according to local media. 

The bear’s latest addition to his rap sheet was inviting himself into a house last week in the Tahoe Keys community in California, according to local law enforcement. 

Police have attempted to use paintballs, sirens, bean bags, and tasers, but nothing has deterred the “exceptionally large bear” from entering neighborhoods. For comparison, a typical black bear weighs between 100 and 300 pounds, according to Department of Fish and Wildlife data.

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The department has said they will likely euthanize ‘Hank the Tank’ once he is caught, though he has yet to be apprehended after more than 150 complaints were lodged about him since July. Last week, police got the bear to leave the latest home he broke into by banging on the house’s exterior until Hank left through a back entrance. 

A spokesperson for the Department of Fish and Wildlife said capturing the bear has been difficult to do in a “safe” way, and the animal poses a threat as it views “people and homes” as a source of food. 

“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,” the spokesperson said in a statement. 

As Hank the Tank’s public profile has risen, some activists and members of the public have objected to the idea of killing the bear, which officials say is a “last option.” The Bear League, a group which advocates for the animals’ protection, has said it is talking with officials about possibly moving Hank to a sanctuary. 

“Everyone is expressing their horror over the plans to kill Hank,” the Bear League’s director said in a social media post. “We haven't talked to or heard from a single person who thinks the bear deserves to die.” 

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