Mange found in Yellowstone wolves
BILLINGS, Mont., March 3 (UPI) -- Mange, a debilitating disease imported to Montana a century ago to kill wolves, has returned to Yellowstone Park and the animals reintroduced there.
Biologists identified the disease in a 9-year-old wolf earlier this winter, The Billings Gazette reported. The wolf, the alpha male in Mollie's Pack, has disappeared and biologists say he may have died.
Mange is caused by a burrowing mite. It leaves wolves emaciated and debilitated, vulnerable to other diseases or to harsh conditions.
While other infectious diseases that strike wolves kill those infected and move on, biologists describe mange as persistent.
"Mange would be around in a messy kind of way every year," said Doug Smith, head of the Yellowstone Wolf Project. "This is an exotic, introduced disease we want to eradicate but it may be impractical to do so."
In 1905, when wolves were considered a pest, wildlife officials in Montana began capturing wolves and coyotes, infecting them with mange and releasing them.