Golden eagles with mange

GOEA mange_K Shawn Smallwood

Photo of golden eagle with mange. Courtesy of K. Shawn Smallwood.

The Wildlife Investigations Lab has been involved in the investigation of three cases of severe mite infestation, or mange, affecting subadult golden eagles in central California. Two cases were reported to WIL by SPCA for Monterey County in December 2012 and August 2013, while a third case was reported by biologists with the East Bay Regional Park District, also in August 2013. The eagles had significant feather loss and crusting of the skin on their head, neck, legs, and lower abdomen.

Severe mite infestation is unusual in birds and especially uncommon in adult birds. The degree of feather loss and infestation exhibited by these golden eagles has not been previously documented. Mange likely affects the eagle’s ability to maintain normal body temperature and they may have difficulty obtaining food, becoming weakened, possibly increasing their susceptibility to trauma or other disease.We are currently working with researchers from the East Bay Regional Park District, SPCA for Monterey County, and the University of California, Davis to thoroughly document these cases, identify the mite, and evaluate any underlying health conditions.

The public is urged to notify the California Department of Fish and Wildlife if additional golden eagles, or other raptors, are seen with severe feather loss. If you find a live-eagle on the ground, do not attempt to capture the bird yourself, as these birds can be extremely dangerous; rather, please contact your local licensed wildlife rehabilitation center for assistance.

Head and legs_Wells and Rogers

Photos of featherloss on head and legs of golden eagle with mange. Courtesy of Amy Wells (head photo) and Krysta Rogers (leg photo).

4 thoughts on “Golden eagles with mange

  1. Pingback: Golden eagle in the snow, video | Dear Kitty. Some blog

  2. These eagles may be getting exposed to the mites while feeding on infested carcasses. CDFW should be surveying for wild mammals with signs of mange in areas where the golden eagles are known to forage.

    • Hi FloJo, thank you for your comment. At this time, with so few eagles to examine, we can only speculate as to where the mite may have come from. It’s possible the mite came from a prey item, although I’d probably suspect avian prey over mammal prey given that mite species tend to be highly host specific. Further the mite may not cause mange in the prey species. This complicates surveillance of potential prey species because the mite is microscopic and if it’s not causing mange it would be very difficult to detect.

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