Posted: March 5, 2019

Pennsylvania's black bear population is experiencing a mange epidemic, and a college research team of biologists, immunologists, and entomologists led by Erika Machtinger, assistant professor of entomology, is working with the state Game Commission to learn why.

Erika Machtinger

Erika Machtinger

Hoping to develop strategies to manage the highly contagious skin disease resulting in hair loss and sometimes emaciation and death--caused by parasitic mites--the researchers are studying bear ecology, movement, and immune response.

They will help the commission trap, radio collar, and track 36 bears for two years, analyzing tissue and blood samples taken from the animals. They will also conduct a genetic analysis of mites and ticks the bears are carrying.

--Jeff Mulhollem