Hank the Tank


Photo Credit: NPR

Animals have often wandered into the suburbs as we have taken over more and more of the forests with housing developments. But recently, a particularly interesting individual has shown himself to residents in South Lake Tahoe in California. The black bear nicknamed “Hank the Tank” is a 500lb bear who has been accused of 33 counts of property damage and breaking into, according to The Wall Street Journal.

However, recent studies have revealed that Hank the Tank hasn’t been acting alone. DNA samples have suggested that two other bears have joined in on the raids. Over seven months, two female bears and Hank have been declared responsible for damages. Even though the gang of bears has caused some damage to homes in California, Hank has become somewhat of a celebrity, and many people made their voices heard to make sure the bears were not euthanized. Instead of being killed, the bears will be tracked but remain free which can help with bear encounters in the future as “the animals with DNA matched with those involved in incidents will then be released into a “suitable wild habitat,” wrote The Wall Street Journal. Hank’s popularity has resulted in offers from animal sanctuaries and residents to fund his transfer to a new home. A bear’s presence in the neighborhoods of California isn’t breaking news, however, as The Department of Fish and Wildlife says that around 25,000 to 30,000 black bears reside in California as a whole, and the largest concentration of them is in Lake Tahoe, reported The Wall Street Journal.

These interruptions bring attention to the importance of locking doors and keeping food secure so that the bears are not tempted to enter homes. As the bears were there first, the humans need to make sure that they take proper precautions if they don’t want the bears rooting through their things. The Wall Street Journal reported that educational campaigns have been put in place to convey information about living among the bear population and what steps should be taken to prevent the bears from rooting through trash cans or living in resident’s garages. Bear boxes are one product that can help keep bears out of the trash, and are used in Lake Tahoe by many residents.

Hank the Tank has been an interesting story to follow, but an important one as well because it illustrates the need for bear awareness. The residents living in the area need to take precautions against the bears looking for food, not expect the bears to respect their fences, because the reality is that the bears were there first and they will continue to feel more comfortable around humans and keep visiting their homes.