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DNA doesn’t lie

There is so much bad news that’s bearing down on everyone these days.

So, here on DNA Sunday, The Legal Genealogist insists that you bear down for just a few seconds to absorb what is perhaps a little different take on the news.

Because there is some news this week about the use of DNA in a criminal investigation that — well — let’s just tell the tail.

Er… tale.

You see, there have been a number of break-ins at homes and properties in an area called Tahoe Keys, on the south side of Lake Tahoe in California.

Authorities had identified a single individual as the culprit for having “caused extensive property damage in 33 documented cases and forcefully entered at least 28 homes in and near the Tahoe Keys.”1

That individual?

Hank the Tank.

Hank the Tank bear

Described as “a specific male bear, weighing approximately 500 pounds, readily identifiable due to its exceptionally large size and dark coat with lighter muzzle.”2

And as the singular bear that had “used its immense size and strength to break in and through front doors and garage doors.”3

And the subject of a special trapping program.

But because state authorities had not been able to identify any reasonable option for a safe place to relocate the bear, Hank appeared to be doomed.

So… why this report on a DNA Sunday after a week of unrelenting bad news?

Because the news for Hank may not be quite so bad.

And DNA is the reason.

“While recent incidents of bears invading homes were originally thought to be a single bear, DNA evidence collected from the most recent incident as well as prior incidents over the past several months prove that at least three bears were responsible for breaking into numerous residences,” the California Department of Fish and Wildlife wrote in its most recent blog.4

“The most recent incident was attributed to a large black bear (the same bear the public is calling ‘Hank’) likely based on visual observation,” the Department said.

But, it continued, “Considering new evidence suggesting multiple bears are responsible for recent incidents, CDFW will work in coming weeks and months to trap bears in the South Lake Tahoe area, tag them, collect evidence for genetic analysis, and then release them into suitable habitat. … CDFW is not going to euthanize any bears that are trapped during this effort.”

What is it we say as genealogists?

DNA doesn’t lie?

Hank has good reason to be glad the evidence can bear that out.

Cite/link to this post: Judy G. Russell, “Bearing with the DNA news,” The Legal Genealogist ( : posted 27 Feb 2022).


Image: Bear League.

  1. The Food-Habituated Tahoe Keys Bear,” Bear Naked Truth, posted 17 Feb 2022, California Department of Fish and Wildlife ( : accessed 27 Feb 2022).
  2. Ibid.
  3. Ibid.
  4. DNA Evidence Prompts Revised Response To Tahoe Keys Bear Incidents,” Bear Naked Truth, posted 24 Feb 2022, California Department of Fish and Wildlife ( : accessed 27 Feb 2022).
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