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Immobilizing muskox (ovibos moschatus) under high arctic conditions

Grøndahl, Carsten, Andersen-Ranberg, Emilie U., Mosbacher, Jesper B., Stelvig, Mikkel, Hansen, Lars H., Schmidt, Niels M.
Journal of zoo and wildlife medicine 2018 v.49 no.4 pp. 856-862
Ovibos moschatus, anesthesia, animals, carbon dioxide, environmental factors, etorphine, females, heart rate, ketamine, medetomidine, monitoring, nose, oxygen, pathophysiology, respiratory rate, temperature, xylazine, Arctic region, Greenland
Immobilizing and handling large, free-ranging animals without proper facilities in harsh environmental conditions poses significant challenges. During two field expeditions, a total of 29 female muskoxen (Ovibos moschatus) were immobilized in Northeast Greenland (74°N, 20°E). Fixed doses of immobilizing drugs were used regardless of animal size: 2 mg etorphine, 30 mg xylazine, 0.3 mg medetomidine, and 40 mg ketamine. Physiologic and behavioral monitoring was performed during the second expedition on 15 female muskoxen. The observed heart rates were 35–58 beats/min and respiratory rates were 25–30 breaths/min. Mean arterial pressures measured using oscillometry ranged between 117–142 mmHg. Pulse oximeter readings ranged from 91–98% with oxygen supplementation, nasal end-tidal carbon dioxide values were 24–42 mmHg, and rectal temperature ranged from 38.9–39.6°C. Induction time was 6–8 min, recovery time 2–6 min after reversal, and duration of anesthesia was 50–100 min. This anesthetic regime thus provided reliable immobilization with minimal pathophysiologic alterations.