Bears in Central PA Suffering from Mange

This is an archived article and the information in the article may be outdated. Please look at the time stamp on the story to see when it was last updated.

NIPPENOSE TOWNSHIP -- Stop feeding the bears -- that's what Pennsylvania Game Commission officers are telling people to do in Lycoming County.

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

It would be extremely difficult for the Game Commission officers to completely get rid of mange, but what they can do is help prevent the spread of the skin infection.

When the Pennsylvania Game Commission found a bear two years ago in Lycoming County, it was starving to death left with just a tuft of hair on its back.

"It was first a couple isolate cases and over the years it's gotten a lot more severe," said Harold Cole, Pennsylvania Game Commission.

This black bear and others just like it in Lycoming County have died from a severe case of mange caused by mites.

"And what it is, is a small little insect that burrows underneath the skin of the animal," Cole explained.

Cole tries to trap bears suffering from the itchy, scabby skin infection.

Officer Cole lures the bears in with food and then treats the ones that can be saved.

But he warns others to stop feeding the bears; drawing several animals to one place could help spread the skin infection.

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

"We can't have bird feeders and we have to take the garbage in at night. We can't put it in the dumpster and he gets in the dumpster," said Pine Creek Township resident Julie Moodler.

She doesn't feed the bear but Moodler said there is a bear with mange who visits her campsite near Avis in Clinton County.

"My brother was there, too, and he said it was mange because I had never seen it before," Moodler said.

Now, some of the bears the Game Commission officers trap are just too far gone with mange. They are unable to help them. This year alone in Lycoming and Clinton Counties they've had to put down six to eight bears because of mange.

"Eliminate the food sources, whether it's the pile of corn, the bird feeders, the dumpsters, the compost piles. All that stuff just needs to stop," advised Officer Cole.

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


  • JennT

    Mange is miserable for them. They itch insanely 24/7 to the point it interferes with eating. The scratching takes even more of their energy. They can’t gain enough weight survive the winter.

  • Nan aka Nu Liform

    imagine..whats in our food..if it does that to bears…im 61 yrs old..& i’ve seen mange before..and Never heard mange came from eating human food..never. But…if our food does have something to do with it…what must it be doing to us?

    • You couldn't pay me to move back.

      It isn’t the food, it’s the common area that they’re getting the food from.

  • Harvy

    Lots if carcass gets slayed out those woods by the Vo-Tech in Frackville. Big game hunters wearing velco sneakers armed with carnal aggression

  • Potholearsholeylvania

    I stopped feeding the dcnr & game commission years ago but they just dont go away
    no more hunting liscence or fishing liscence

  • El Ma

    This is one of those things that people just will NOT accept: bears are not cute, fuzzy, harmless bits of entertainment. They are an integral part of the ecology, and there should be very heavy fines for people who insist upon feeding these animals. What a dreadful thing and it’s almost entirely preventable if people will just accept the fact that wildlife comes and goes as it does, and that we have no business interfering with it.

    We have a seasonal neighbor who has been asked, numerous times, to stop feeding the bears. She has installed spotlights in a tree at the back of her yard that illuminate a huge feeder. She fills this feeder with 50 lb of corn, and every stale cookie, marshmallow, and cracker that she can find. She goes to the discount grocers’ and purchases stale bread, rolls, and cereal to put in this feeder. One of her sons installed a motion-sensitive night-vision game camera to capture the “frolicking” when she’s not able to stay up and wait for the bears. When her husband was alive, he would actually go outside and go into close proximity of these animals while they were at this feeder. She is no different, though she will remain indoors. Whenever this subject came up, she would defend her actions by saying, “I put it out for the deer…”

    Because of this woman’s interference (along with a couple of other seasonal people), there have been no less than 4 bears that were either relocated or destroyed because they became nuisances. I would like to relocate these people because of their being a nuisance.

    WHAT DOES IT TAKE for people to get it through their thick skulls that WE are living in THEIR habitat and that WE should have some regard for the flora and fauna?


Comments are closed.

Notice: you are using an outdated browser. Microsoft does not recommend using IE as your default browser. Some features on this website, like video and images, might not work properly. For the best experience, please upgrade your browser.