Tahoe residents are now safe from the break-ins of 400-pound bear after her capture
MARY LOUISE KELLY, HOST:
One of the most wanted home break-in suspects in South Lake Tahoe, Calif., has been captured.
JUANA SUMMERS, HOST:
It's a big deal, really - almost a 400-pound deal.
JORDAN TRAVERSO: When we investigate a bear break-in, we go, and we take evidence to make sure that it was a bear.
KELLY: And it was indeed a massive black bear, according to Jordan Traverso, spokesperson for the California Department of Fish and Wildlife.
SUMMERS: The bear has been notorious for damaging property and breaking into houses across the area for more than a year now, so notorious that residents gave the bear a nickname, Hank the Tank.
TRAVERSO: Although she is a female bear. We call her Bear 64F.
KELLY: Traverso says her colleagues safely tranquilized Hank, aka Bear 64F, last week after linking her to at least 21 break-ins since last year using DNA and forensic evidence.
TRAVERSO: It is wild animal "CSI," and it's actually - I think it's incredibly cool.
SUMMERS: It's not the first time wildlife officials have encountered 64F, either. She had an existing rap sheet. The department actually first captured and tagged her last year.
TRAVERSO: So this is how we know that we have bears that are repeat offenders - because we found their saliva in this home invasion and then this home invasion and then this one over here. And so that's how they get a rap sheet.
KELLY: OK. Here's the other thing to know. Bear 64F had cubs in the past year. Traverso says she was likely teaching them to hunt in the wild and inside people's homes.
TRAVERSO: In an ideal situation, a bear would teach their cubs how to get fish out of a river, how to find berries off of a berry plant. In this situation, because the food reward was so much easier to get - you don't have to chase it. You don't have to dig for it. Some human left it in a pile outside a bear box, and she was able to get in there and get it easily. A cub is going to learn how to get food from how its mother teaches it to do so, and that's what she would eventually end up teaching those cubs.
SUMMERS: Traverso also says there were other bears breaking into homes, too, but the animals aren't solely to blame in these situations.
TRAVERSO: Really, the bad behavior is amongst humans who are having attractants in their homes or not securing their garbage. And sometimes it's - one homeowner could be great, but your next-door neighbor might be a vacation home where some folks aren't doing what they have to do.
KELLY: Still, it's 64F and her cubs who will bear the brunt of the consequences of the growing urban fringe. Officials say 64F will now live out her life in a roomy sanctuary in Colorado.
TRAVERSO: It's a really actually lucky ending for a bear like this because we don't always have sanctuary space. We don't have the ability to send problem bears in California to Colorado. This is a very unique alternative that I don't imagine we'll be able to employ maybe ever again.
SUMMERS: And as for Hank's cubs, they'll undergo rehabilitation in Northern California to get them ready for release back into the wild. So, residents of South Lake Tahoe, consider yourself warned.
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