The physiologic effects of two methods of capture, chemical immobilization of free-ranging (FR) bears by remote injection from a helicopter and physical restraint (PR) by leg-hold snare prior to chemical immobilization, were compared in 46 grizzly bears (Ursus arctos) handled during 90 captures between 1999 and 2001. Induction dosages and times were greater for FR bears than PR bears, a finding consistent with depletion of, or decreased sensitivity to, catecholamines. Free-ranging bears also had higher rectal temperatures 15 min following immobilization and temperatures throughout handling that correlated positively with induction time. Physically restrained bears had higher white blood cell counts, with more neutrophils and fewer lymphocytes and eosinophils, than did FR bears. This white blood cell profile was consistent with a stress leukogram, possibly affected by elevated levels of serum cortisol. Serum concentrations of alanine aminotransferase, aspartate aminotransferase, and creatine kinase were higher in PR bears that suggested muscle injury. Serum concentrations of sodium and chloride also were higher in PR bears and attributed to reduced body water volume through water deprivation and increased insensible water loss. Overall, different methods of capture resulted in different patterns of physiologic disturbance. Reducing pursuit and drug induction times should help to minimize increase in body temperature and alteration of acid-base balance in bears immobilized by remote injection. Minimizing restraint time and ensuring snare-anchoring cables are short should help to minimize loss of body water and prevent serious muscle injury in bears captured by leg-hold snare.
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Vol. 39 • No. 3