Mange discovered in dead coyote

·3 min read

A young coyote struck and killed on the highway in Middleton in January had mange, say pathologists at the Canadian Wildlife Health Co-operative.

Ron Rayner, a local resident and retired long-time Bedeque mayor, discovered the animal on the road and moved it to the edge. As he did so, he saw that the unlucky animal appeared to have mange.

“If that were to get into the foxes and racoons up this way, it could be disastrous,” said Rayner.

He called around to make sure the animal was properly taken away.

The small male coyote was delivered to the experts at the Canadian Wildlife Health Co-operative. Located at the Atlantic veterinary college, wildlife pathologist Megan Jones took a closer look on Jan 25.

“We were able to confirm that he does have sarcoptic mange. We were able to do a skin scraping on the body and look under the microscope and see the actual mites – small numbers of them, but they were definitely there.”

The mites that cause sarcoptic mange burrow beneath the skin of the host and cause itching. The host scratches and chews at the site to find relief, sometimes until the hair falls out or until the animal comes down with a secondary infection.

Mange was first found on coyotes in P.E.I. in the early 1990s, and trappers say they have occasionally seen one with mange.

It is not usually fatal, but this coyote looked as though he had a particularly bad case, said Jones, though the ultimate cause of death was being hit by a vehicle.

“When we saw him from the outside, he looked like he probably had something going on with his skin. He was missing hair in a lot of places, and he had some sort of crusting on his skin and he actually has some mats in his hair on his back and his skin was kind of roughened like he’d been scratching it,” said Jones.

The mange outbreak is foxes in recent years seems to have spread the disease across the Island’s coyote population as well.

“Initially we were seeing some mange in coyotes in eastern P.E.I., as well, but by now we’ve seen it in coyotes from pretty much as far west as Tignish and this one was from Middleton, in the centre/western P.E.I.,” said Jones.

As the disease is spread by direct contact or indirectly as animals share bedding. Sarcoptic mange mites are adapted to certain hosts – the mite that infects coyotes can spread to foxes and does not seem to take hold on any other animals or people.

Humans can get a rash-like reaction from handling an animal with mange, so Jones recommends wearing gloves.

Vets have found mange on domestic dogs in P.E.I., but Jones said they don’t know if there’s a relationship between the mange in dogs and the mange in foxes and coyotes.

She and the other researchers at the Canadian Wildlife Health Co-operative check every animal submitted to their lab for mange in order to learn more about the disease.

Alison Jenkins, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Journal-Pioneer