Forty captive wapiti (Cervus elaphus) and thirty-two bison (Bison bison bison) were tested in April and October 1988, respectively, for their response to the sedative R51163. Treatment animals were injected with either 0.1, 0.2, or 0.3 mg of R51163/kg and then observed for 72 hr. Behavior was significantly altered by the drug. Hyperactive, aggressive, and milling behavior was characteristic of treated wapiti and they were extremely dangerous and reared when hind quarters were touched. Although treated plains bison displayed some milling behavior, they were generally more calm than wapiti. There was a marked difference between sexes in plains bison for all behavioral categories. Male bison were more ataxic, often observed in sternal or lateral recumbency, less conscious, and were slower to respond than females or controls. Respiratory rate increased in treated wapiti and plains bison, and heart rates of treated wapiti increased. Because of the powerful sedative effect on large, male bison, R51163 may be useful for handling unmanageable or dangerous animals and warrants further studies.
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