A large mother bear wanted for dozens of break-ins throughout South Lake Tahoe was captured along with her three cubs.
The bear, known as 64F, is responsible for at least 21 home invasions between February 2022 and May 2023, according to the California Department of Fish and Wildlife. DNA found at the break-in sites was used to confirm her identity and involvement.
The mother’s three male cubs have accompanied her during recent break-ins as well, CDFW said. There are additional break-ins and property damage that 64F is also suspected of.
The large mother bear was one of three bears identified by the public as “Hank the Tank” in 2022.
The 500-pound black bear, who was later discovered to be three bears, were collectively responsible for more than 150 incident reports in the region between Northern California and Nevada, the Associated Press reported.
The mother bear has been monitored by wildlife officials since 2022. At the time, 64F was immobilized so wildlife experts could collect DNA samples, attach an ear tag and place a satellite tracking collar on her.
Her cubs were implanted with PIT tags, also known as Passive Integrated Transponders, which contain a microchip similar to those used to identify pet dogs and cats.
In May 2022, 64F shed her satellite tracking. She was later discovered in March 2023 denning under a residence in South Lake Tahoe along with her three cubs. Her DNA has been found at 21 home invasions since, with the suspicion of additional incidents linked to her, officials said.
Following a successful capture, 64F will be relocated to The Wild Animal Sanctuary near Springfield, Colorado.
“Relocation is not typically an option for conflict animals over concern that relocating an animal will relocate the conflict behavior to a different community,” CDFW officials explained. “However, given the widespread interest in this bear, and the significant risk of a serious incident involving the bear, CDFW is employing an alternative solution to safeguard the bear family as well as the people in the South Lake Tahoe community.”
The three young cubs will potentially be relocated to Sonoma County Wildlife Rescue in Petaluma. While there, officials hope the cubs can discontinue the negative behaviors they learned from their mother so they can be returned to the wild.
Before being transferred, all bears will be given a thorough health assessment. Officials discovered one of the cubs suffered serious injuries from being hit by a vehicle earlier this month, but remains mobile at the time.