DNA evidence has revealed that the 500-pound black bear dubbed Hank the Tank by the public is really at least three larger bears that have wreaked havoc on more than 30 residences near Lake Tahoe in recent months.
On Thursday, the California Department of Fish and Wildlife said that it will soon begin capturing bears in the South Lake Tahoe area in order to tag them and collect data for genetic study. The bears will be released in a “appropriate environment,” and no caught animals will be euthanized as part of the study, according to the government.
More than 150 incidents have been reported in the region straddling Northern California and Nevada, including a break-in last week at a home in the Tahoe Keys neighborhood.
According to CBS Sacramento, one of the Hanks busted a window and slipped into the house on Catalina Drive while the homeowners were at home on Friday. Police arrived and pounded on the house’s façade until Hank left through the back door and vanished into the woods.
The then-lone bear, also known as Jake, Yogi, or just Big Guy, was characterized by one wildlife officer as a “severely food habituated bear” that has “lost all fear of people” and sees them as a food source.
“What’s concerning about this bear is its size,” Peter Tira, a spokesman for the California Department of Fish and Wildlife, told the San Francisco Gate on Sunday.
“It’s learnt to break into a lot of occupied households using its size and strength, smashing through the garage door or front door.”
The three Hanks, at the very least, may form a brigade once the trapping attempts begin.