Mange in American Black Bears


American black bears (Ursus americanus) in Pennsylvania are suffering from rising numbers of sarcoptic mange infections that have resulted in increasing mortalities. In 2000, black
bear with mange were reported in 60 municipalities in Pennsylvania. This number increased over 5-fold to over 300 municipalities reporting sightings of black bears with mange in 2013. In 2014, Pennsylvania Game Commission (PGC) staff documented 56 bears that had either died or were euthanized because of mange infection. More information regarding the biology of the parasite, transmission, pathobiology in black bears, and population impacts in Pennsylvania is needed to appropriately manage this disease and reduce animal suffering and impacts both on individual bears and on populations. This project is in collaboration with the Pennsylvania Game Commission and the University of Maryland. Funded by the Summerlee Foundation. 


The broad objectives are:
Objective 1: To analyze the effect of Sarcoptes spp. infection on black bear movement over the landscape and subsequent activity levels.

Objective 2: To determine how treatment of black bears with mange influences movement over the landscape, as well as how treatment affects recovery.

Objective 3: To assess frequency of infection with mange, and immune and other physiological characteristics of both mange infected and non-infected black bears to analyze potential linkages between physiological stress and mange infection.

Objective 4: To evaluate both captured and hunter-killed bears for ectoparasites such as ticks and lice to potentially determine relationships between mange infection and other ectoparasite loads.

Objective 5: To analyze Sarcoptes samples collected from black bear and candids to determine if divergence of host specificity has occurred.