Field workers handling bears continually strive to improve their field methods and reduce risks to animals during capture. Zolazepam–tiletamine (ZT) is the standard anesthesia currently used in bear captures, but has a prolonged recovery because there is no antagonist. Researchers are increasingly using xylazine, zolazepam, and tiletamine (XZT) in combination as an improvement to ZT alone. Because xylazine provides excellent analgesic qualities and can be antagonized, XZT has the potential for effective anesthesia and faster recovery time for bears. I assessed recovery times and considered physiological parameters to asses the quality of anesthesia of grizzly (Ursus arctos) and American black (U. americanus) bears anesthetized with XZT, for which the xylazine portion was antagonized by yohimbine (XZT/Y). I compared these recovery times with unpublished recovery time data on bears anesthetized with ZT only. My XZT/Y samples came from research projects in western Montana, northern Idaho, and southeast British Columbia; bears anesthetized with ZT only came from Alberta, Canada, and the Greater Yellowstone Project of Montana, Wyoming, and Idaho, USA. Bears administered the XZT/Y protocol recovered from anesthesia 1.61 (95% CI = 1.28–2.01) times faster than bears anesthetized with ZT combinations. Bears administered XZT/Y at dosage rates presented here received adequate anesthesia for humane handling as indicated by the physiological parameters monitored.
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Vol. 20 • No. 2