Massive bear named ‘Hank the Tank’ on the run from California police

Hank the Tank

A massive black bear named Hank the Tank is wanted by California police for breaking into dozens of homes in a Lake Tahoe neighbourhood since last summer.

The bear burglar weighs 500lbs (227kg), much more than the average bear, and appears to have skipped hibernation in winter due to a constant food supply.

Authorities say euthanisation may be necessary because the wild animal has grown so comfortable around humans.

Wildlife groups are calling for him to be relocated to a sanctuary.

Hank earned his nickname by hungrily barging his way into locked and occupied homes.

“It’s learned to use its size and strength to force its way into homes,” says California Department of Fish and Wildlife spokesman Peter Tira. “It’ll barge through garage doors, it’ll barge through front doors. It’ll go through windows.”

Also crowned “King Henry” in the press, Hank is “readily identifiable due to [his] exceptionally large size and dark coat with a lighter muzzle”, according to the South Lake Tahoe Police Department.

Normal non-lethal methods of bear “hazing”, such as bean bag munitions, sirens, and dry-firing police tasers (which “makes a clicky-clack noise that the bears hate”) have not been successful in driving Hank away.

The Bear League, a local wildlife advocacy group, says that Hank got to be his size (black bears average around 100-300lbs) due to his raging appetite for human food.

They have called for Hank to be trapped and sent to a sanctuary instead of killed, and for Lake Tahoe residents to be more vigilant about securing their food and rubbish.

“He’s not subsisting on a diet of ants and berries like a lot of wild bears do,” Mr Tira tells BBC News.

“In Tahoe there’s year-round access to high caloric food – whether we’re talking about leftover pizza or ice cream or just trash,” he continues. “It’s easier to find that kind of food than to work for hours to remove grubs from a dead log.”

Officials have received more than 150 calls about Hank. He has broken into nearly 40 homes, sometimes causing severe damage, in just the last six months.

“I’ve been in town 40 years and I’ve been locking my doors recently and I’ve never done that,” local Tim Johnson told CBS News after the latest break-in by Hank on Friday night.

“The more we don’t feed them, the more this isn’t going to be the case.”

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