As part of a reintroduction program, blood samples from free-ranging, recently captured Nearctic river otters (Lontra canadensis) in eastern New York state were collected and analyzed to determine baseline hematology and plasma biochemistry values for the source population, and to determine whether these values were significant predictors of trap-injury status. Based on physical exam, each otter was classified as uninjured, moderately injured, or severely injured. Clinical pathology parameters were compared across sex, age class, and injury classification. The increase in likelihood of a change in each parameter in injured versus uninjured otters was determined using logistic regression. Baseline hematology and plasma biochemistry values did not differ significantly from published values for captive otters in zoos or other reintroduction programs. Plasma aspartate aminotransferase levels increased as time from capture to venipuncture decreased. Some otters in this study showed clinical signs consistent with exertional myopathy, possibly altering our calculation of baseline values. Our results suggest that the hematology and plasma biochemistry values obtained in this recently captured population of otters are generally not good predictors of capture-related injury. This could be due to disease processes that are not readily visible upon physical examination or because changes in these values may be associated with factors independent of capture-related injury.
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Vol. 36 • No. 3