Bears going bald, look like ' large rats'

OCALA NATIONAL FOREST, Fla. - Many black bears in central Florida are going bald. A veterinarian says bears with a unique type of mange are losing their hair and wind up looking "like a large, bald rat."

Biologists say more than half the black bears living in Marion County forests have the illness. Biologists say it's the only place in the country to report such a large proportion of balding bears.

A Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservations Commission veterinarian says tiny mites attack the bears' skin, causing the hair to fall out. Some bears just lose fur around the face or rump, but the worst cases end up fully bald.

The vet says there don't seem to be any other health effects beyond hair loss.

Associated Press Dec. 10, 2002 03:35 PM

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