Image description: USGS scientists examine thermal imagery of wolves for assessing impacts of sarcoptic mange on the survival, reproduction and social behavior of this species in Yellowstone National Park.
Sarcoptic mange is a highly contagious canine skin disease, caused by mites that burrow into the skin causing infections, hair loss, severe irritation and an insatiable desire to scratch. The resulting hair loss and depressed vigor of an infected animal leaves them vulnerable to hypothermia, malnutrition and dehydration, which can eventually lead to death.
Note the bright red patch on the wolf’s hindquarters in this thermal image of a captive wolf at the Grizzly and Wolf Discovery Center in West Yellowstone. This is where fur was shaved to replicate the loss of fur associated with sarcoptic mange. The fur will eventually grow back. All research animals are handled by following the specific requirements of USGS Animal Care and Use policies.
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