Thermal cameras used to keep Yellowstone wolves healthy

File photo / thinkstock
File photo / thinkstock

Researchers in the US are using thermal cameras to help fight mange in Yellowstone Park wolves.

The effects of sarcopic mange, a highly contagious canine skin disease where mites burrow into the skin and cause infection, can expose animals to the additional threats of hypothermia, dehydration and malnutrition - which can cause death.

Wolves in Yellowstone National Park were believed to have been free of the mite in 2002, but as of November last year, half of the wolf packs in the area were found to be suffering from the condition, US Geological Survey reported.

In a bid to better understand the stages of infection and how they impact the wolves, researchers at the Northern Rocky Mountain Science Centre (NOROK) are now using thermal cameras to monitor heat loss under a range of different conditions.

The cameras show the relationship between heat loss and hair loss in imaging which associate brightness with heat.

Patches of the wolves are shaved to simulate the advanced hair loss that accompanies the later stages of mange infection, allowing scientists to compare hair loss from the hairless patches with temperature loss from natural fur.

Scientists hope the research at Yellowstone will help combat mange in the wild.


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