Several bears suffering from mange in Central Pennsylvania

LYCOMING COUNTY, Pa.-- The Pennsylvania Game Commission is telling people to stop feeding the bears.

Mange, which is a sometimes fatal skin infection, is spreading among the bear population in Central Pennsylvania.

While the Game Commission knows it would be difficult to completely get rid of mange, they know the can try to slow it down by preventing the spread of the skin infection.

The problem came to light when the game commission found a bear two years ago, and it was starving to death and was left with just a tuft of hair on its back, according to WNEP.

That bear and others like it have died from a severe case of mange that is caused by mites.

Harold Cole from the Game Commission said, "It was first a couple isolated cases and over the years, it's gotten a lot more severe. And what it is, is a small little insect that burrow underneath the skin of the animal."

Officer Cole lures bears in with food and then attempts to trap those that are suffering from the infection to give them treatment.

However, Cole warns others to stop feeding the bears as drawing several of them to one location could help spread the infection.

"The mite is spread through two different ways. The one is contact and common area."

Unfortunately, some of the bears that Game Commission officers trap are just too far gone with mange, and they are unable to help them.

This year alone in Lycoming and Clinton Counties, six to eight bears were put down due to mange.

Officers warn, if you see a bear you believe may have mange, do not try to approach it, and call the Game Commission for help.