Bear Naked Truth

Goings-on with black bears in the Tahoe Basin and beyond

  • October 5, 2023

Three bear cubs that were captured with their mother in South Lake Tahoe this summer are progressing toward re-release into the wild.

The cubs’ mother, called 64F based on her DNA being the 64th unique female bear DNA entered into the CDFW wildlife forensic database, is known for breaking into at least 21 homes and causing property damage in the South Lake Tahoe area. The sow is also one of multiple bears identified by the public last year as “Hank the Tank.” She was safely immobilized in early August and taken to a wildlife facility near Springfield, Colorado, for permanent placement. The cubs, at least one of which accompanied her on break-ins, are being rehabilitated at Sonoma County Wildlife Rescue near Petaluma.

The three male cubs, who were separated from 64F because she is not a candidate for rehabilitation while they may still be released to the wild, are now about 8-months-old and were recently given a clean bill of health by veterinarians.

“All three bears looked good,” said Dr. Brandon Munk, California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) senior wildlife veterinarian. “We did a physical exam and baseline blood work for each. We gave them minor therapeutics to knock down internal and external parasite loads.”

One of the cubs has been recovering from injuries suffered while in the wild. The cub had a fractured hind foot and an associated wound from being struck by a vehicle. It also had an injury from an air rifle pellet.

“The fractures are healing, and the wound is almost healed. The cub is moving normally with no limp. All indications are that he’s doing fine,” said Munk.

The cubs’ rehabilitation protocol at Sonoma County Wildlife Rescue includes reinforcement of foraging skills which they’ll need in the wild. For example, staff at the facility have placed logs, rocks, branches and other structures in the enclosure to provide the bears with climbing and balancing practice. Staff have also been burying and hiding food to allow the cubs to practice foraging.

“We all want to give these cubs the best chance at living a life in the wild,” said Munk.

If the cubs’ rehabilitation progresses as planned, they will be re-released into the wild in spring 2024.

Hank the Tank’s cubs raised in captivity at Sonoma County facility


Video credit:

Media contact:
Peter Tira, CDFW Communications:

Categories: General, Human Wildlife Conflict, South Lake Tahoe
  • August 4, 2023

Bears Destined for Wildlife Sanctuary in Colorado and Rehabilitation Facility in Sonoma County

Wildlife biologists for the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) this morning safely immobilized a large female conflict bear responsible for at least 21 DNA-confirmed home break-ins and extensive property damage in the South Lake Tahoe area since 2022. Her three cubs were also captured in the effort.

Pending a successful veterinary check, CDFW has secured permission from the State of Colorado to transport the female black bear, known as 64F, and place it with The Wild Animal Sanctuary near Springfield, Colorado, which has agreed to care for it in its expansive facilities. This large black bear is one of multiple bears identified by the public last year as “Hank the Tank” based on visual observations.

Colorado Parks and Wildlife has the authority to approve only one such placement and is using that authorization for this bear. Relocation is not typically an option for conflict animals over concern that relocating an animal will relocate the conflict behavior to a different community. 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.

A large conflict black bear in the Lake Tahoe Basin captured by CDFW on Aug. 4, 2023.
CDFW file photo of conflict black bear 64F.

The sow's three young cubs, which have accompanied the bear on recent home break-ins, will potentially be relocated to Sonoma County Wildlife Rescue, a CDFW-permitted wildlife rehabilitation facility in Petaluma in hopes they can discontinue the negative behaviors they learned from the sow and can be returned to the wild. All three cubs were given a health assessment in the field before transfer and will receive additional examination at the facility. One of the cubs is believed to have suffered serious injuries from a vehicle strike earlier this month, though is still mobile. The injured cub will be given a thorough veterinary evaluation.

Bear 64F has been monitored closely by CDFW since 2022. In March of 2023, she was discovered denning under a residence in South Lake Tahoe along with her three male cubs of the year. Staff from CDFW and the Nevada Department of Wildlife immobilized the bear, collected DNA evidence, attached an ear tag and affixed a satellite tracking collar to the bear. Staff also implanted Passive Integrated Transponders, known as PIT tags, into the cubs for future identification. The PIT tags contain a microchip similar to what’s implanted into pet dogs and cats for identification.

Bear 64F shed the satellite tracking collar last May. The bear’s DNA, however, has been confirmed at 21 home invasions in the South Lake Tahoe area between February 2022 and May 2023 with the bear suspected in additional break-ins and property damage.

CDFW’s updated Black Bear Policy (PDF), released in February 2022, allows for the placement and relocation of conflict bears in limited circumstances when other management options have been exhausted and as an alternative to lethal actions.

Media Contact:
Jordan Traverso, CDFW Communications, (916) 212-7352

Categories: Human Wildlife Conflict, Rehabilitation, South Lake Tahoe

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