Visitor Counter

hitwebcounter web counter
Visitors Since Blog Created in March 2010

Click Below to:

Add Blog to Favorites

Grizzly bears, black bears, wolves, coyotes, cougars/ mountain lions,bobcats, wolverines, lynx, foxes, fishers and martens are the suite of carnivores that originally inhabited North America after the Pleistocene extinctions. This site invites research, commentary, point/counterpoint on that suite of native animals (predator and prey) that inhabited The Americas circa 1500-at the initial point of European exploration and subsequent colonization. Landscape ecology, journal accounts of explorers and frontiersmen, genetic evaluations of museum animals, peer reviewed 20th and 21st century research on various aspects of our "Wild America" as well as subjective commentary from expert and layman alike. All of the above being revealed and discussed with the underlying goal of one day seeing our Continent rewilded.....Where big enough swaths of open space exist with connective corridors to other large forest, meadow, mountain, valley, prairie, desert and chaparral wildlands.....Thereby enabling all of our historic fauna, including man, to live in a sustainable and healthy environment. - Blogger Rick

Subscribe via email to get updates

Enter your email address:

Receive New Posting Alerts

(A Maximum of One Alert Per Day)

Sunday, September 23, 2012

First Seals, then Walruses and now Polar Bears losing their hair and suffering skin lesions............Are the Bears contracting some type disease from the animals they feed on?......While it is known that Polar Bears can lose hair(thought to be caused by mites or hormone imbalances or from wounds that do not heal well), the degree of hair loss showing up in the bears has researchers concerned.....What is the root malady causing the "skin erosion" in all 3 iconic species?

Balding bears? More polar bears with hair loss found

Polar bear researchers in Alaska continue to find bears with missing hair and skin lesions. So far, more than a quarter of the bears they've captured have shown signs of the condition – a much higher number than is typically seen. As of Wednesday, 13 of 48 bears – or a little more than 27% – had documented cases of alopecia or other skin conditions.
It's not unusual to run across a few bears with hair loss, but to see the condition in higher numbers is odd. Because biologists are already on the hunt for what is making other arctic species sick with similar symptoms, the high rate of hair loss in polar bears has piqued curiosity in the science and wildlife communities. “It's too early to mark this as a real cause for concern,” said Bruce Woods, a spokesman with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

Samples of the affected areas are being collected and sent to an out-of-state lab for analysis, said Tony DeGange, a biologist with U.S. Geological Survey in Anchorage. They are also hoping to get Anchorage veterinary pathologist Kathy Burek-Huntington up to Alaska's North Slope to witness the symptoms first-hand.

Burke-Huntington is already on the team of disease hunters trying to figure what's making Alaska seals and walrus sick with similar symptoms. Adding the mystery illness that's causing hair loss in polar bears to her investigation should help scientists determine whether all three animals – seals, walrus, polar bear – are suffering from the same illness or different afflictions. Currently, no one knows.For now, researchers remain in Katkovik, with plans to move on to Prudhoe Bay once the weather improves.

Fur loss, oozing sores observed in Arctic Alaska polar bears

Alaska polar bears, protected under the Endangered Species Act, have joined the list of Far North species afflicted with a mystery illness. An iconic animal that has become a symbol for global awareness of a melting arctic, polar bears are beginning to show up with hair loss and lesions.

--> Polar bear researchers with the U.S. Geological Survey are only halfway into their annual survey in Alaska and they’ve already come across nine bears – six in Barrow and 3 in Kaktovik – with signs of alopecia and skin lesions. The muzzle, face, eyes, ears and neck appear most affected, according to a bulletin published Friday by the agency.“We are seeing it in bears across the Southern Beaufort Sea in Alaska,” said Tony DeGange, a biologist with the USGS in Anchorage.

Researchers say they aren't alarmed because the bears seem healthy otherwise. But their curiosity is piqued. They want to know what the condition means, if anything, to the animals’ long-term health and whether there’s any connection to the illnesses recently discovered in other animals that share the same waters.

Large numbers of sick and dying seals were found along Alaska's Arctic coast last summer, followed by a similar but less-severe condition found in Pacific Walrus in the same region during the fall. The combination led to a declaration by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration in December of an Unusual Mortality Event. That brought together agencies and researchers seeking answers about what was happening and why.

Both animals suffered skin lesions. The seals also had hair loss. It's not known what is causing the afflictions or whether all the species suffer from the same disease. Polar bears feed on seals. Whether they are feeding on the sick seals, or whether the sick seals have the potential to make the bears ill, isn't known. DeGange calls it "the million dollar question."
Hair loss is not uncommon in polar bears – it happens both to bears in the wild and in captivity. The Association of Zoos and Aquariums lists allergies, mites, self-inflicted wounds from rubbing in stressed bears, water quality issues and hormone imbalances as leading suspects for the cause of the problem.

The USGS has collected data on polar bears in Alaska every year since 1984. About 13 years ago, during the 1998-99 season, its researchers witnessed a similar spike in hair loss, with 10 of 48 bears captured that year showing signs of hair loss. The cause was never found. In most other years, the condition shows up with much less frequency.

Federal scientists have collected blood and tissue samples from the afflicted bears “to investigate the cause of the symptoms and determine whether there is any relationship between the symptoms observed in polar bears and those reported for arctic pinnipeds from the same geographical region earlier this year,” according to a prepared announcement about the findings.
Polar bear observations will wrap up near Prudhoe Bay in early May.

Hunters are advised not to eat sickly animals and to thoroughly cook any meat they plan to eat. A hotline has also been set up for anyone who sees or harvests a polar bear with fur loss or skin sores. That number is (907) 786-7034

No comments: