2012-08-25 / Outdoors

Mange cases growing in local black bear population

Mange has become more prevalent in our black bear population in recent years.

Severe cases of mange are quite unsightly, as bears often become nearly naked and covered in scabs.

Bears affected by mange are often in poor physical shape and are at a disadvantage for surviving winter.

Mange affects a wide range of wild mammals, especially canines. It is a skin disease caused by different species of parasitic mites that burrow into the skin or hair follicles. Historically, black bears have mostly been affected by ursicoptic mange. However, in recent years there has been an outbreak of sarcoptic mange, caused by a different mite species. These mites are so small that they can’t be seen by the naked eye.

Sarcoptic mange is highly contagious and is normally transferred from an infected animal directly to an uninfected animal. Mites feed, live, breed, and lay their eggs in tunnels under the skin.


Black bears that have mange can be a particularly sad and horrifying sight. The cases of mange in the state’s black bear population are on the rise. Black bears that have mange can be a particularly sad and horrifying sight. The cases of mange in the state’s black bear population are on the rise. Infections typically begin on elbows and towards the tips of the ears and can eventually cover large areas of the bear’s body.

Lesions can also develop.

Hunters who harvest a bear with mange should handle it with care, using rubber gloves and bathing afterward. It is possible that humans could be infected with the mites from a bear carcass. These infections are shortlived and self-limiting due to the host specificity of the mite.

Infections in humans are most likely to occur on hands and arms and would involve intensely itchy, red, inflamed skin at the site where contact was made.

Interestingly, the disease scabies in humans is caused by a subspecies of the same mite that causes sarcoptic mange in bears.

Diseases such as mange are transmitted more easily when an animal’s population density is high. Sure enough, black bear populations in the state are the highest they have been since the original colonization of the commonwealth.

Hunters who harvest a bear with mange have the option of turning the bear over to officials at the check station and receiving a new bear tag. ________________

We are set to have a good acorn crop this fall through most of the region. Red oaks have produced well with other oak species also producing acorns this year.

Although there were dry spells this summer, rain came when it was most needed and we didn’t lose our developing acorns to drought.

As you begin to plan your scouting for fall hunting season, keep your eyes open for the acorn mast crop.

Deer, bears and other game animals will be focusing on these food sources as they seek to store up energy for winter.

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