Hank the Tank

Many people who live near Lake Tahoe currently fear an active burglar.

This hooligan does not target money, vehicles, jewelry, artwork, or any other valuables one might associate with the Lake Tahoe clientele. The locals have imparted an apt nickname for the thief. But, despite eluding the big net of authorities many times, this sobriquet has nothing to do with sneakiness.

They call the scourge of Lake Tahoe “Hank the Tank.”

Hank isn’t interested in high-end assets in Lake Tahoe. Instead, he pilfers food.

Hank the Tank is a black bear!

Lake Tahoe - photo by D Ramey Logan

Some have also dubbed this ursine terror “King Henry.”

Hank the Tank earned the nickname. Take a look at this unit of a bear:

Hank the Tank - photo by Bear League

Starting last summer, the South Lake Tahoe Police Department started receiving reports of home break-ins. The transgressor did not show grace during the entries. Hank barged into homes, breaking windows and doors along the way, only to raid refrigerators.

Authorities attempted to trap and deter the bear, but all methods proved futile. The residents of South Lake Tahoe began to wait for winter to come, which would bring hibernation.

But here, again, King Henry sprung a surprise on the humans. He completely eschewed hibernation, continuing to ransack homes throughout the cold months. Peter Tira, a spokesman for the California Department of Fish and Wildlife, told the BBC, “He’s not subsisting on a diet of ants and berries like a lot of wild bears do. In Tahoe, there’s year-round access to high caloric food – whether we’re talking about leftover pizza or ice cream or just trash. It’s easier to find that kind of food than to work for hours to remove grubs from a dead log.”

According to the Bear League, the average black bear in California weighs between 100 and 300 pounds. Hank the Tank, experts believe, probably tips scales in excess of 500 pounds. Ice cream and pizza will do that.

The editorial staff at The Mountains Are Calling hesitated to publish this article. After falling for Mr. Goxx in 2021, his unexpected death hit us hard in the heartstrings.

Briefly discussed at the end of the preceding video, many residents of Lake Tahoe want Hank the Tank to be euthanized. A giant bear breaking into homes is, undoubtedly, terrifying. Thankfully, however, many desire Hank to be captured and relocated to a bear sanctuary.

We hope for a peaceful outcome, as humans and megafauna must find ways to coexist as we move forward. With good fortune, we will not need to pen an updated article filled with sadness.

Unsolved Mysteries often featured the above placard

As this story hit news outlets this week, the fate of Hank the Tank seemed a coin toss with a sanctuary on the obverse and death on the reverse. Police had received over 150 calls about the bear and officials believed he had plundered almost 40 different buildings. The longer Hank remained on the fridge prowl, his life and the lives of those in Lake Tahoe abodes were at risk.

Then, however, an update arrived!

As it turns out, Hank isn’t a lone wolf, if you’ll pardon the mixed metaphors. DNA evidence collected by the California Department of Fish and Wildlife shows at least two other bears helped cause the ruckus in Lake Tahoe. This evidence might save Hank’s life. According to the department, the fact that multiple bears are breaking into homes means each human-habituated organism is less likely to physically assault people. They state they have taken euthanasia out of the pool of possible solutions, instead opting to trap and relocate the bears.

One of the arch rules of camping is to bear-proof food. As the habitats of humans and bears merge, perhaps that notion needs to extend to log cabins and mountain homes, as well!

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