Polar Bears Suffering Unexplained Fur Loss
Scientists in Alaska are seeing polar bears that are suffering from hair loss and skin lesions. This is not the first time this has been reported, in the late 90s the same thing was happening.
9 of 33 bears checked in the southern Beaufort sea region are suffering from alopecia - fur loss. 3 of 4 bears checked near Kaktovic are suffering with the same symptoms, fur loss and skin lesions. Blood and tissue samples were taken from the bears with the symptoms.
U.S. Geological Survey scientists have been going into the area to study polar bears since 1984. They sedate the bears and take samples to monitor the polar bears overall health and well being. In 1998-99, scientist found 10 of 48 bears checked with fur loss and skin lesions. The scientists will continue studying the bears until May, when ice conditions become unstable and ends their ability to travel.
Nothing was ever discovered from the samples taken in 1998-99. There is some concern this year as the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, declared an “unusual mortality event” based on a number of ringed seals hauled out on beaches on the Arctic coast of Alaska during the summer. The ringed seals also had hair loss and skin lesions. There is concern that these could be related, but at this time it is not clear if they are or not. From SeattleCBSLocal.com.