Mysterious disease killing young bears in the Sierra Nevada

National News

A black bear scavenges for food beside tourists near the famous General Sherman tree at the Sequoia National Park in Central California on October 10, 2009. The Redwood trees which are native to California’s Sierra Nevada Mountains are the world’s largest by volume reaching heights of 274.9 feet (84.2 metres) and a ground level girth of 109 feet (33 metres). The oldest known Giant Sequoia based on it’s ring count is 3,500 years old. AFP PHOTO/Mark RALSTON (Photo credit should read MARK RALSTON/AFP via Getty Images)

TAHOE CITY, Calif. (AP) — A mysterious disease has stricken several young black bears captured in the Sierra Nevada, and one telltale sign is their fearlessness at being around humans.

California veterinarians said in the past 12 months, officials have captured four bears with encephalitis, which can be caused by a body’s immune system attacking itself.

Although bears normally shy away from humans, the sickly bears aren’t showing fear.

Scientists have discovered five new viruses in some of the bears with the symptoms, but they have not determined whether the viruses are to blame for the disease.

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