Image: Bear League
Admit it, he is very cute.

Hank the Tank, is a 500-pound black bear that has broken into at least 28 homes since July, that Twitter has cultivated a love for after it was announced that the bear might be killed due to its dangerous behavior. To put it into perspective,  most black bears peak at about 300 pounds, whereas Hank lies at around 500 pounds. He is now incredibly used to humans, most likely due to being habitually fed by humans, and will now break into houses to find leftover food. This has caused him to be a “wanted” bear by the police.

This bear is known to be found in nearby neighborhoods in South Tahoe, California. And although black bears are normally startled easily by noise, Hank the Tank has not been effectively chased off by paintballs, bean bags, sirens, or even Tasers. Since Hank is so large, officials state that the bear has not gotten so big from berries or the typical diet of a black bear. And, because he is not startled by loud noises and actively seeks to break into houses, he is probably too used to humans to be scared of them, which is a problem. Bears are lazy hunters, and once you feed them, they will often come back to places they were fed before, even if it means breaking into someone’s house. From this, it is possible the bear will now face euthanization once he is found.

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Once Twitter got word of Hank the Tank, memes about his innocence began to take over. Many wondered how a bear could be “wanted” as if he is a criminal, especially if he is acting in a manner applicable to bears. Humorously, many began to rally for Hank. However, though funny, there are people who see a serious issue with the way people interact with bears, especially since it is so dangerous to feed them and get them familiar, and not scared of, with humans.

Additionally, those who have personal experiences with Hank have said that the bear is not violent and is only searching for food. Many are asking that Hank will not be euthanized, but placed in a bear sanctuary if he is no longer able to live in the wild. The phrase “a fed bear is a dead bear” comes into play here, reminding people that feeding bears might not have immediate consequences, but creates a bear that will no longer fear humans. If a bear is no longer fearful of humans, it is harder to scare away and then becomes more violent. So, although Hank and other bears are incredibly adorable, it is important to remember feeding most animals, even coming from pure intentions, is not the route to go.