Hank the Tank’s behaviour has become unbearable for authorities (Picture: Bear League)
A massive bear has become California’s most elusive criminal – after evading capture for seven months.
‘Hank the Tank’ is wanted for a number of crimes including theft, destruction of public property and trespassing.
This month, it was revealed he is ‘alive and well’ and still on the loose.
But backers of the bear claim he is innocent, and say he has been ‘framed’ by the authorities.
Hank, who weighs 500-pounds, has reportedly struck at around 30 homes in the Lake Tahoe area of California.
He has been known to smash windows with his big paws before squeezing through the gaps in search of food.
Peter Tira, a spokesman for the California Department of Fish and Wildlife, told the San Francisco Gate: ‘What’s problematic about this bear is how large it is.
‘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.’
After weeks of no reported sightings, Hank is said to still be ‘alive and well’.
Bear League, a group which promotes human-bear relations, has posted on Facebook: ‘Bear League still getting calls from concerned people asking about Hank the Tank.
‘As you can see in this recent video… he’s alive and well. Long Live Hank!’
In their most video, a snow-covered Hank can be seen investigating a bin outside a home, before slowly padding away.
The bear- also known as ‘Jake’ ‘Yogi’ and ‘Big Guy’ – is said to have ‘lost all fear of people’.
But some claim he has become a ‘scapegoat’ and should face a far smaller rap sheet.
Black bears in South Lake Tahoe have got increasingly confident (Picture: Getty Images)
A bear hunt has been launched for ‘Hank the Tank’ and his associates (Picture: Bear League)
The Animal Rights Channel blog wrote: ’Hank was a convenient scapegoat for general bear damage because he is easily recognizable to people who know what traits to look for.
‘Hank, who was blamed for all the break ins, was in danger of being euthanised.’
DNA evidence was analysed in February which suggests the break-ins associated with Hank the Tank could in fact, be three separate bears.
Californian authorities plan to trap and collect the group and release them into a more suitable habitat.
But there are fears the released bears would struggle to survive, as they are not used to hunting for food.
Until Hank and his gang of bothersome bears have been captured, homeowners have been urged to take precautions to reduce the number of break-ins.
Rather than watch and admire marauding bears that come into gardens, people have been encouraged to get their dogs to bark at the intruders.
They could also use a paintball gun to shoot the bear on its bottom, it has been suggested.
The goal of both the Bear League and Animal Rights Channel is to have humans and bears live in ‘harmony’.
Most recently, volunteers from the Bear League helped evacuate a family of sleeping bears from under a crawl-space in a Lake Tahoe home.
Strange snoring noises had been heard but ignored because they ‘didn’t make sense’.
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