A 227-kilogram black bear dubbed “Hank the Tank” is making waves in a California community, as he makes himself all too much at home after breaking into dozens of homes.
Hank, who earned his name because of his giant size, has become a nuisance in the city of South Lake Tahoe, east of Sacramento, after months of break-ins in search of tasty snacks in recent months.
Hank weighs up to twice as much as the average brown bear – and is very identifiable due to his “exceptionally large size and dark coat with a lighter muzzle”.
He’s also giving the city’s authorities and 21,000 residents plenty of grief as they debate how to respond to the “extremely food-habituated” bear. Hank is said to have caused widespread damage and has been the source of more than 100 worried calls to the California Department of Fish and Wildlife.
According to US media, some locals believe the only option is to have Hank captured and killed.
However, South Lake Tahoe Police Department appeared a lot less concerned about the bear in its response to his most recent break-in last week.
Calling him “our big bear friend”, local police posted on social media after Hank was found inside a Tahoe Keys home.
“This bear did not break into a garage, where trash was kept that he was sniffing out. He broke into a secured home, through the small window in the photo, and somehow squeezed inside,” police said.
They said officers banged on the exterior of the home and a compliant Hank left through the back door.
There have so far been no reports of the hungry bear injuring or attacking anyone.
South Lake Tahoe police are urging residents to apply for a “bear box”, a Hank-proof container that can be used to store food. They want the local home owners’ association to fund the boxes.
Police said officers were also trained to use deterrents such as loud sirens, dry-firing tasers and beanbag rounds when necessary, “to remind bears that it’s not very nice to break people’s property”.
A spokesperson for the state’s Fish and Wildlife department said that Hank had “lost all fear of people” and “sees people and homes as a source of food”.
CBS News reports a meeting between local authorities about Hank’s future will be held in Tahoe Keys on Wednesday.