Virginia’s first mange-affected bear was diagnosed in a bear from Rockingham County in 1994. From 2014 to 2017 reports were sporadic and primarily focused in the northwestern mountain counties of Frederick and Shenan- doah. Since 2018, reports have increased in frequency and geographic spread, and mange has been confirmed in 14 counties. DWR asks anyone who sees a bear showing signs of mange as described below to take photos, note your ex- act location (take GPS coordinates, if possible), and sub- mit this information to the VA Wildlife Conflict Helpline at or (1-855-571-9003).

What is mange?

Mange is a highly contagious skin disease, caused by a mite, which affects many wild and domestic mammals. DWR is actively working to understand the disease and the mite that is causing this disease in Virginia’s bear popula- tion. Results to date indicate that the most common cause of mange in Virginia bears is Sarcoptes scabiei, which is a mite that burrows into the skin and can only be seen with the assistance of a microscope.

How does mange spread between bears?

Currently, there are many unknowns related to the occur- rence and spread of mange in bears. Research efforts are underway to understand these processes. Mites can transfer to a new host when an unaffected animal comes into direct physical contact with an infested host. In addition, mites that fall off an infested host can persist in the environment and may infect a new animal that enters a site contaminated with mange mites.

Because bears are relatively solitary, the biggest risk for environmental transmission likely occurs under conditions where they congregate, either naturally (e.g., dens) or un- naturally (e.g., garbage cans, bait piles, bird feeders and other food resources).

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