A renegade 500-pound black bear that has been rampaging through a California community has prompted calls for the state’s Governor Gavin Newsom to intervene and assist in saving the bear’s life from certain death.
California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) has designated a huge black bear known as “Hank the Tank” for capture and possible extermination after it broke into hundreds of residences in South Lake Tahoe Keys recently.
He has smashed through residential gates and windows on numerous occasions in order to gain access to people’s homes and steal food. Hank, according to the CDFW, is a possible hazard to humans because he has become accustomed to eating human food.
Despite this, sympathy for the animal has grown in recent weeks, with the publication of videos and news articles documenting his activities.
An online petition was established on Monday by Change.org user Julia P from California in the hopes of garnering enough support to save Hank’s life and assist with his relocation. The petition was directed to Newsom, the California State Assembly, and People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA).
Among the petition’s demands: “Hank is a hungry bear who has learned through the demolition and industrialization of his habitat that the quickest way to obtain food is to break into people’s homes and grab it… prevent Hank from being slain in his own home.”
It is estimated that there are between 30,000 and 40,000 black bears in California. Adult male black bears normally weigh between 150 and 350 pounds, thus Hank is significantly larger than the average black bear in terms of size.
Beginning in July of last year, Hank’s expeditions into the town were fruitful. KOVR reported that CDFW has received over 150 calls since then on Hank’s activity in the community since his arrest in 2009. The intruder gained entry into dozens of residences in South Lake Tahoe Keys without causing any harm so yet.
Tahoe Keys residents, especially the active bear conservation group Bear League, have expressed opposition to any plans to destroy Hank and have expressed a desire for him to be relocated instead.
Additionally, the petition, which has received more than 170 signatures to date, endorses that course of action as well. “He can be transported to a sanctuary where he can live out his days in peace while still being fed in the most convenient manner,” the letter says.
The CDFW set up a metal bear trap outside a residential property in Tahoe Keys last week after receiving a permit. According to BEAR League’s Facebook page, the organization was removed after failing to apprehend Hank and being vandalized with the words “Bear Killer.”
The CDFW stated that it will now evaluate its alternatives, but expressed skepticism about offers to relocate Hank to a new location.
As CDFW spokesperson Peter Tira told SFGATE, “When you relocate a bear in this manner, you are relocating a problem to another neighborhood.” “When you relocate it to the forest, the animals starve because they are not accustomed to foraging for food in the wild. Death comes to them in a gradual, excruciating manner.”
Attempting to enter a property in the town on Thursday, according to a video shared by Bear League. Hank the Tank was on the lookout for food, according to the footage.
Bear safety specialists have also expressed their thoughts on the situation, emphasizing the importance of inhabitants taking simple precautions to avoid being attacked by bears while searching for food.
The founder of Bear Safety & More, Kim Titchener, recently told Newsweek that when wildlife officials make the decision to put down a bear, it is “definitely not something they want to do.”
“It is frequently the only choice available as a result of poor behavior on the part of individuals. If the bear was able to get into waste, it is the responsibility of the local community to clean up its act.”
PETA has been approached for comment, as has the Governor’s office, California Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon, and the California Humane Society.