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Using Tailored Tranquilizer Combinations to Reduce Stress Associated with Large Ungulate Capture and Translocation

Wolfe, Lisa L., Miller, Michael W.
Journal of wildlife diseases 2016 v.52 no.2s pp. S118
azaperone, fearfulness, fever, haloperidol, muscles, muscular diseases, research management, ungulates, Colorado
Capture and translocation are important tools for managing and studying large ungulates. Although widely used, many established field practices cause fear and stress in subject animals that can hamper overall effectiveness and safety. Over the last 10 years we have been exploring uses of tranquilizer combinations as adjuncts to wild ungulate capture and translocation work in Colorado, USA. Our approaches have been tailored to various field applications to reduce fear and stress, facilitate handling, and improve the overall success of capture and translocation for research or management purposes. For physical capture (drop net or helicopter-net gunning) with local release, combinations of midazolam and azaperone administered immediately upon capture provide transient tranquilization and muscle relaxation during manual restraint and handling to prevent hyperthermia and capture myopathy. For extended tranquilization (during transport and overnight holding), adding a sustained-release haloperidol formulation provides calming effects for at least 24–48 h. In our assessment, appropriate and adaptive use of these tranquilizer combinations benefits captured animals without impeding management or research goals.