YNP wolf packs have mange
by Cat Urbigkit, Pinedale Online!
December 16, 2008
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has reported that this year, at least eight wolves in four different packs in Yellowstone National Parks have experienced mange-like symptoms including significant hair loss. Mange has also been documented in wolf packs in Montana and Yellowstone in the last two years.
Here's what the agency has to say about the issue:
"Sarcoptic mange is a highly contagious skin disease caused by mites (Sarcoptes scabiei) that burrow into the epidermis of the host animal and create tunnels where females lay eggs. Larvae hatch from eggs, which molt through two nymph stages and continue to burrow new tunnels in the epidermis. The two-week life cycle is completed after the second nymph stage molts to adults. Each stage can add to the tunnel system but most tunneling is done by adult females. Burrowing in the epidermis and allergic responses by the hosts to excretions from the mites causes pruritis (severe itching) which leads to progressive skin damage as the host animal bites, scratches, and rubs the affected area. Infested animals generally suffer from alopecia (loss of hair), hyperkeratosis (thickening of the skin), seborrhea (excessive discharge from sebaceous glands causing an oily coat, scales, and surface crust on the skin), scabs, ulcerations, and lesions. Severe cases can affect the animalís entire body and can lead to emaciation, poor body condition, and death from secondary infections or hypothermia in winter due to hair loss.
"Mange is spread from infested animals to new hosts by direct contact, contact with areas contaminated with mites (ie: bedding sites or dens), or contact with common rubs used by infested animals.
"Mange is fairly common in wolf populations through out the world. Based on other areas that have experienced mange infestations, we predict that mange in the northern Rocky Mountain wolf population will be localized in specific areas and not threaten the overall population."