Hank the Tank is No Silverback … or is He?

SB Bill (Hinesburg SBs) has brought to our attention the activities of Hank the Tank:

Hank the Tank strikes again.

The 500-pound black bear has damaged more than 30 properties around Lake Tahoe, and last week broke into yet another home in an endless quest for a quick meal.

Known by residents as Hank the Tank, the giant bear has eluded capture for more than seven months, according to Peter Tira, a spokesman for the California Department of Fish and Wildlife.

“What’s problematic about this bear is how large it is,” Tira told SF Gate on Sunday. “It’s learned to use that size and strength to break into a number of occupied residences, bursting through the garage door or front door. It’s pretty frightening.”

The bear is responsible for more than 150 incident reports in the region straddling Northern California and Nevada.

It has broken into at least 28 homes since July, the New York Times reported Sunday.

A Friday break-in at a residence in the Tahoe Keys neighborhood is the latest.

The bear smashed a window and squeezed into the house on Catalina Drive while the residents were at home. Police responded and banged on the outside of the house until Hank exited out the back door and disappeared into the woods.

Also known as Jake or Yogi or simply Big Guy, the bear is what Tira described as a “severely food habituated bear” that has “lost all fear of people” and thinks of them as a food source.

A homeowners association agreed during a meeting last week to allow state wildlife personnel to capture the bear. Previous trapping efforts, which are generally more successful in wooded settings, have proven futile in residential areas where the bear has become acclimated, SF Gate reported.

After the break-in Friday, officials collected DNA evidence to make an accurate match if they capture the bear. If Hank is captured, officials said the bear could be relocated to accredited facilities such as zoos and wildlife sanctuaries, Tira said.

“You relocate it to the wilderness, and they starve because they’re not used to hunting for food,” Tira said.

Killing the bear is hopefully a last resort, said Joby Cefalu, a board member with the homeowners association.

“Nobody on our board took lightly the situation of depredation,” Cefalu told the Los Angeles Times. “We’re meant to coexist. Unfortunately, this is a human problem.”


SB Bill on his ’49 Panhead, circa 1977

Hank the Tank coverage was suggested by SB Bill, a self-described “man of girth” and author of Fat People, an entirely unique fictional look at the emotions and experiences of those who live to eat: the estrangement, loneliness, embarrassment, fear, defeated sexuality, unresolved anger, but also the simple pleasure of food.

“I devoured this book like a pint of Ben & Jerry’s and savored every spoonful.” SB SM

from Schubart.com

“As a society, we avoid the f-word when, in fact, many of us are Fat People. Diet books, cookbooks and clinical eating disorder books are a significant sector of the publishing industry, but little or no fiction exists to convey the emotional and experiential aspects of obesity, the juxtapositions of pain and sybaritic pleasure that coexist within the person living with an eating disorder or, more simply, with a predilection to overindulge in the pleasures of food. Publishing is laden with epiphany diets and weight loss schemes that form the basis of a largely fraudulent, multi-billion dollar business perpetuated by a 95% failure rate. Fat People will acquaint the reader with people who over eat, their fears, their joys and their sorrows. It will help the reader better understand the complex relationship between the emotional insecurity, the palliative impact of highly refined food and its role in the cycle of addiction. This book is both a personal narrative and a sympathetically observed one.”

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