DNA clears bear ‘Hank the Tank’ of some Tahoe break-ins

“Hank the Tank” has been falsely accused of some Tahoe area break-ins, wildlife officials acknowledged on Thursday, citing DNA evidence that the 500-pound black bear isn’t the sole culprit. Officials with California’s Department of Fish and Wildlife had said that the massive bear was the source of more than 150 calls for service in the small Tahoe Keys community and had eluded efforts at capture for months. They had said he would likely be euthanized once caught, but that they were also exploring other options. Hank’s infamy grew as international news outlets covered his story and South Lake Tahoe police appealed for the public to stop clogging their phone lines to share opinions about how to handle the bear. CDFW officials said Thursday that DNA samples indicated at least two other bears have broken into homes lately, along with Hank the Tank. As a result, officials are no longer planning to kill Hank if they capture him. The other bears won’t be euthanized either. There are some situations when CDFW might euthanize bears. Instead, they plan to “trap, tag and work to relocate habituated bears.” Wildlife officials said that in the coming weeks and months they will work to “trap bears in the South Lake Tahoe area, tag them, collect evidence for genetic analysis, and then release them into suitable habitat.”CDFW called for help from the community with permission to place traps on their property. The agency also asked people to carefully store their food and trash. “Increasingly, CDFW is involved in bear/human conflicts that could have been avoided by people taking a few simple actions,” they said. “Bears are primarily scent-driven when seeking food. Improperly stored human food and trash are likely attracting bears into this neighborhood.”

“Hank the Tank” has been falsely accused of some Tahoe area break-ins, wildlife officials acknowledged on Thursday, citing DNA evidence that the 500-pound black bear isn’t the sole culprit.

Officials with California’s Department of Fish and Wildlife had said that the massive bear was the source of more than 150 calls for service in the small Tahoe Keys community and had eluded efforts at capture for months. They had said he would likely be euthanized once caught, but that they were also exploring other options.

Hank’s infamy grew as international news outlets covered his story and South Lake Tahoe police appealed for the public to stop clogging their phone lines to share opinions about how to handle the bear.

CDFW officials said Thursday that DNA samples indicated at least two other bears have broken into homes lately, along with Hank the Tank.

As a result, officials are no longer planning to kill Hank if they capture him. The other bears won’t be euthanized either. There are some situations when CDFW might euthanize bears.

Instead, they plan to “trap, tag and work to relocate habituated bears.”

Wildlife officials said that in the coming weeks and months they will work to “trap bears in the South Lake Tahoe area, tag them, collect evidence for genetic analysis, and then release them into suitable habitat.”

CDFW called for help from the community with permission to place traps on their property. The agency also asked people to carefully store their food and trash.

“Increasingly, CDFW is involved in bear/human conflicts that could have been avoided by people taking a few simple actions,” they said. “Bears are primarily scent-driven when seeking food. Improperly stored human food and trash are likely attracting bears into this neighborhood.”

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