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DNA Evidence Exonerates Big Bear 'Hank The Tank' From Tahoe-Area Break-Ins

SOUTH LAKE TAHOE (CBS13) — "Hank the Tank," the big bear being blamed for breaking into dozens of homes across the Tahoe Keys area, may be innocent after all.

The 500-pound brown bear was blamed for another break-in last Friday morning; however, California Department of Fish and Wildlife officials say they collected DNA evidence from the scene and found that a female bear was actually the culprit. The discovery prompted officials to back through DNA evidence over the last seven months. What they found was that there were three other bears, two males and one female, responsible for damaging the more than 30 properties that were originally linked solely to Hank.

Fish and Wildlife have concluded that Hank may not even be responsible for any of the break-ins over the last seven months, officials said on Thursday.

The BEAR League, who have been advocating for leaving Hank alone, lauded the work done to make sure that Hank was indeed the bear wanted for the break-ins.

"Hank no longer has a death sentence hanging over him and he is no longer going to have his freedom taken away from him by sending him to a sanctuary," the BEAR League wrote in a statement on Thursday. "We fully support this decision and are grateful for the investigation into the truth that was taken seriously by the experts within our CA DFW."

Hank's notoriety garnered him international recognition, with his story - and possible plight, due to there being few options to deal with a bear so accustomed to being around humans - being picked up by news outlets far and wide.

The media sensation also caused the South Lake Tahoe Police Department to be inundated with calls from people voicing their opinions about Hank.

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