500-pound bear breaks into dozens of homes looking for food

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Any sort of bear coming into your home would be scary. A 500-pound, ravenous bear breaking into not one but dozens of houses is cause for concern — and some sort of action.

A bear that officials have nicknamed “Hank the Tank” has taken to looking for his next meal at residences in the city of South Lake Tahoe, California. The bear has been ransacking homes around the area since last summer, leaving a trail of destruction behind in his search for food.

The South Lake Tahoe Police Department shared a photo showing a home Hank broke into with shattered glass, debris and a busted-out window.

The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) and local police have tried to “haze” Hank to deter him using loud sirens, shooting paintballs and bean bags or zapping him with tasers. They also set out traps, which were removed after public outcry. Still, so far, nothing has discouraged him from staying away from humans and their food. Officials say Hank has terrorized as many as 40 homes.

As a result, authorities are now trying to capture Hank. While they have not said what their plans for the bear are, some fear euthanization. Despite his actions, the bear is described as being beloved by local residents, as he hasn’t hurt anyone so far.

The BEAR League, a non-profit organization based in the Lake Tahoe basin, posted a video of Hank caught in action by a security camera. Along with others, they are offering help and suggestions in the hopes that the DFW will choose another neutralization option.

They did note that Hank did not gain entry into this particular home.

“As Hank grew to his current enormous size — as you can tell, he eats well — he started going into houses, first by entering through unlocked doors and windows and then by using his size to easily push those barriers out of his way. He can no longer be allowed to remain free, clearly,” the organization wrote in the post.

“The BEAR League has talked to the directors of three sanctuaries who have told us they are willing to work with the DFW and, hopefully, help get Hank off the streets and into a good home,” they continued. “We have given this information to the supervisors within the DFW who are tasked with trapping and killing Hank. So far, they have not reached out to any of the sanctuaries to discuss this dire situation. We don’t know why. The good news is: the trap has been removed, as of over a week ago, and has not been reset. But Hank is still going into homes, this is not good news.”

Authorities have responded to more than 150 calls about Hank, some from people fearful for their safety.

“This is what we call a severely habituated bear, meaning this bear has lost all fear of people and it is associating people with food and food sources,” the CDFW’s Peter Tira told ABC7 News.

Ann Bryant, the BEAR League’s executive director,  says a sanctuary in Colorado will take him in. However, the CDFW said placement facilities must be accredited, have all required state and federal permits and meet its quality standards, adding that a placement for Hank had not yet been found.

The CDFW, residents and the BEAR League agree Hank needs to be removed, but at this time it is unclear how that will happen.