A Mother Bear Named ‘Hank the Tank’ Broke Into 21 Homes Before Getting Caught

A 500-pound black bear that's spent the last two years terrorizing Lake Tahoe was captured along with her three cubs.

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A Mother Bear Named ‘Hank the Tank’ Broke Into 21 Homes Before Getting Caught
Photo:California Department of Fish and Wildlife (AP)

More like breaking and entHERing! The latest in bear news (a beat that I’ve delightfully found myself following this past year) is that not only has Hank the Tank—a 500-pound black bear terrorizing the Lake Tahoe region—been caught, but she (yes, SHE) isn’t a big boy bear at all.

Hank the Tank should be named Meg the Keg or Marge the Barge. (Update your records accordingly.) And actually, last year, officials discovered that the menace known as Hank was, in fact, three different bears (in a trench coat! just kidding) who were all ransacking the Northern California area and causing “extensive property damage.” But DNA evidence pins Marge the Barge, as I’ll call her, or 64F as she’s known to local officials, to at least 21 different break-ins. That is some impressive girl-boss hustle, Marge.

In March 2023, the California Department of Fish and Wildlife immobilized Marge and her three male cubs, gathered DNA from her, and placed tracking devices on all four bears. That’s how they linked her to the various attacks—one of which included her ripping the siding off of a home so that she could enter it from underneath. We need an Ocean’s 11-style franchise with these bears but instead of going after a Cartier necklace, the bears are scheming to steal a block of Cabot cheddar cheese. By May 2023, Marge “shed” the tracking collar the CDFW had placed on her.

But it’s hard to hide from the authorities when you’re a 400-pound black bear hellbent on destroying vacation properties owned by the coastal elite. On Friday, August 4th, CDFW captured Marge, who they refer to as a “large female conflict bear”—a very strong contender for the next self-deprecating nickname terminally online girlies can call themselves. They plan to send Marge to Colorado’s Wild Animal Sanctuary where she will be delivered food instead of causing tens of thousands of dollars worth of property damage in search of “girl dinner” or what have you. Her three cubs are being sent to Sonoma County Wildlife Rescue, where they’ll eventually be released back into the wild.

It’s always disheartening to see a strong female icon torn down, and it’s especially difficult to see the state separate a mother from her three large sons. Hopefully, the two remaining Hanks will stay out of trouble so that they can remain in the idyllic Lake Tahoe region and not meet the same fate as Marge.

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