Mange in Wolves of Yellowstone National Park

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Detailed Description

This video describes USGS research utilizing remote thermal imaging cameras to study the extent and impact of mange on wolves in Yellowstone National Park.


Date Taken:

Length: 00:02:52

Location Taken: Bozeman, MT, US


USGS Northern Rocky Mountain Science Center

Mange in Wolves in Yellowstone National park

Thermal Imagery Video

Any use of trade, product, or firm names is for descriptive purposes only and does not imply endorsement by the U.S. Government.

Sarcoptes scabiei, the mite that causes the skin infection known as sarcoptic mange, has been found in wolves in Yellowstone National Park. 

Mange is primarily transmitted through direct contact and causes an allergic reaaction that casues severe itchiness, resulting in the thickening of skin, hair loss, and secondary infections.

Infected individuals that suffer from hair-loss must expend much more energy to thermoregulate and keep sufficiently warm during winter months.

Infected animals spend consdierable amounts of time scratching, which detracts from other activities including resting or effective hunting.

To help understand the role of mange in the lives of wolves, researchers need to understand the costs and extent of infection.

Thermal imagery of wolves allows scientists to not only document the extent of hair loss caused by mange, but the actual loss of heat associated with the different stages of infection.

Researchers at USGS and their partners are using thermal cameras in Yellowstone National Park to assess the amount of heat lost under a range of environmental conditions.

Researchers placed remote thermal cameras near carcasses of deer and elk in Yellowstone.

The cameras record wolf activity around the carcass. The color bar on the righ is temperature degrees Celsius.

"Cooloer" blue tones indicate less heat emission, while "warmer" red tones indicate a heat emitting source.

While areas around the nose and eyes naturally give off heat, large red patches on the legs and body of the animal indicate areas of mange.

Researchers measure temperature loss from the mange patches (red) and compare this with temperature loss from natural fur (blues and greens).

The risk, severity, and duration of infection with mange are highly variable within Yellowstone's wolf population.

Currently, researchers are examining if there are attributes of individuals or packs that might predispose them towards higher risk, greater severity, or longer duration of infection.

The project was funded by: USGS-NPS POBS, U.S. Geological Survey, National Park Service

Collaborators: Paul Cross & Mike Ebinger, USGS Northern Rocky Mountain Science Center

Emily Almberg, Pete Hudson & Cheyenne Burnett, Penn State University

Doug Smith, Colby Anton & Nate Bowersock, Yellowstone Wolf Project, NPS

John Heine, Grizzly and Wolf Discovery Center

Katie Haase & Olivier Putzeys, Institute on Ecosystems, Montana State Univ.

Paul Nugent, NWB Sensors, Inc.

Video Editing: Suzanna Soileau, USGS Northern Rocky Mountain Science Center