California transfers “Hank the Tank” 64F bear to Colorado refuge

A fugitive 400-pound female bear identified by California wildlife officials as 64F and known to the public as “Hank the Tank,” linked to 21 home break-ins and property damage south of Lake Tahoe, has been cleared for relocation across state lines to a refuge in eastern Colorado.

Colorado Parks and Wildlife officials have approved this transfer in response to a request from the private, non-profit Wild Animal Sanctuary.

The bear’s three young cubs, who accompanied 64F on recent break-ins, may be sent to a rescue facility in Petaluma, California “in hopes they can discontinue the negative behaviors they learned from the sow,” according to a California Department of Fish and Wildlife announcement.

Bears that bother humans in California typically aren’t relocated, officials said. But “given the widespread interest in this bear, and the significant risk of a serious incident” state officials embarked on this solution “to safeguard the bear family as well as the people in the South Lake Tahoe community.”

CPW rules allow only one relocation like this each year.

The bear will be sent to the Wild Animal Sanctuary’s refuge near Springfield in southeastern Colorado. It cleared medical examinations and has received the required permits issued by the Colorado Department of Agriculture, CPW officials said in a news release.

California wildlife biologists tranquilized and captured 64F on Friday and blamed the bear for “at least 21 DNA-confirmed home break-ins” since February 2022. The biologists also captured the cubs, one of them injured from a vehicle collision.

In March, wildlife officials discovered 64F denning under a house near Lake Tahoe along with the cubs, according to the California agency’s statement. California and Nevada agency staffers then immobilized the bear, affixed a satellite tracking collar, and also implanted transponders in the cubs. In May, 64F shed the tracking collar.

People in California initially assumed “Hank the Tank” was one male bear. But officials now say 64F is one of three bears responsible for more than 40 break-ins attributed to Hank the Tank. The whereabouts of the other two were unclear.

Colorado Gov. Jared Polis publicly welcomed the bear, suggesting a name tweak to Henrietta.

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