Bombshell evidence saves burglar bear ‘Hank the Tank’ from animal Death Row

A 500lb (35st) burglar bear dubbed ‘Hank the Tank’ has been spared the death penalty after bombshell DNA evidence proved he was no longer the only animal responsible for almost 40 break-ins in the US.

Cops in California had fielded more than 150 calls from locals about the huge black bear with a raging appetite for human food.

He had been accused of breaking into people’s homes and causing chaos and officials had earmarked the wild animal to be put down.

But DNA samples have now linked at least two other bears to the crime scenes in the Lake Tahoe region, sparing him a death sentence.

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Wildlife experts claim bears are being forced into human territory due to food scarcities

Peter Tira, a spokesperson for the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) said: “No bears will be euthanised, harmed, relocated to some facility or placed in a zoo.”

He added that officials will instead focus on tagging the bears for genetic data and releasing them into the wild.

Hank hit the headlines earlier this week when it was thought he was the prime suspect of the carnage.

Photo of damage caused by the bears
Authorities said they were no longer looking to put Hank down

More than 20,000 residents live in the area, which is also a major tourist destination.

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Mr Tira said the bear doesn’t fear humans and has come to associate them with access to food.

Officials had been identifying the chunky criminal by his dark coat and exceptionally large size, apparently from skipping winter hibernation.

But in a statement on Thursday, the CDFW said: “Identifying bears simply by their visible, physical characteristics can lead to misidentifying bears”.

Genetic samples from a break-in last Friday that was initially thought to have been committed by Hank were discovered to have come from a female bear not included in the agency’s database.

And DNA analysis of similar incidents indicated at least one more bear – also a female – was responsible.

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The agency has called on locals to store food and trash more carefully to avoid attracting bears.

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