Since the summer, a black bear called Hank the Tank caused a self-inflicted 500-pound nuisance in South Lake Tahoe, California, breaking into more than two dozen homes for food and leaving traces of damage.
So far, no one has been able to stop Hank, Peter Tira, spokesman for California Department of Fish and Wildlife. Department officials and local police attempted to “smoke” the bear with paintball guns, bean bags, sirens and Tasers, but it was too attracted to humans and their food to avoid it. away for a long time.
“Finding leftover pizza is easier than walking in the woods,” Mr. Tira said on Sunday.
Residents have called police about Hank more than 100 times since July when he continued rampaging through Tahoe Keys, a gated community about 190 miles northeast of San Francisco.
Now, the authorities are trying to trap Hank and possibly put him to death.
Mr Tira said: ‘This is a bear that has lost all human fear. “It’s a potentially dangerous situation.”
Hank, so named by the locals, used his size and strength to dash through garages, windows, and doors. As of Thursday, Hank had broken into at least 28 homes.
At 500 pounds, Hank is “exceptionally large,” state wildlife authorities said. The average black bear in the western United States weighs between 100 and 300 pounds, according to Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife.
Ann Bryant, CEO of Bear League, a wildlife rescue service in Homewood, Calif.
She said: ‘He didn’t get that much fat from eating berries and shrubs, adding that it’s unclear how Hank developed a taste for human food.
Hank became one of the neighborhood’s least-desired residents in July, which is around the time the bears enter their brain-boosting phase, a period where they accumulate a lot of calories before they hibernate for food. winter, by page National Park Service.
But Hank’s tendency to break into homes hasn’t slowed down in the winter, leading state wildlife authorities to believe it never hibernates, Mr. Tira said. Bears sometimes don’t hibernate, he said, if they have year-round access to food.
Hank did not fall into a trap set for him this month, so authorities are considering a new approach, with life-and-death as the “last option”, Mr. Tira said.
If officials moved the bear to another area, that could simply solve the problem, he said, adding that all the sanctuaries were already too full to take Hank.
And it’s been a point of contention between California wildlife authorities and residents of the Tahoe Keys. Many residents want to see Hank taken to a reserve and not be banned, Ms. Bryant said.
Black bears have roamed the area for generations. They co-existed with the residents, who learned don’t let food out and seal their trash in bear-proof bins. However, the bears still occasionally cause trouble in the area. In 2007, The New York Times described the animals as “house destroyer. ”
The bear situation has changed during the coronavirus pandemic, as some people move to the area to work remotely. The new residents are not all “as aware of bears as they should be,” Mr. Tira said. And after everyone fled South Lake Tahoe in the Caldor Fire in SeptemberThe bears, he said, assumed the location of people, walking the streets and inspecting homes.
Although the neighbors didn’t want Hank to vandalize their home, they wanted him to be treated with respect, Ms. Bryant said. State authorities took down a bear trap in the area after someone sprayed it with paint “Bear Killer” up there.
The residents were quick to point out that Hank was gentle and sweet. When he broke into a home, he was more concerned with the food than with anyone who might be in the house, Ms. Bryant said.
“He just sat there and ate,” she said. “He didn’t attack them. He didn’t growl. He doesn’t make rude faces.”
Although the homeowners had notified Hank that he had caused extensive property damage, he had not harmed anyone, authorities said.
“Why does this huge dummy have to die?” Mrs. Bryant said.
https://www.nytimes.com/2022/02/20/us/lake-tahoe-bear.html Hank the Tank, a 500-pound bear, attacks a California community