Between 1986 and 1991, 155 wood bison (Bison bison athabascae) (33 adult females, 92 adult males, twelve 6 mo-old calves, eighteen 1 to 2 mo-old calves) in the Mackenzie Bison Sanctuary, Northwest Territories, Canada, and adjacent area were captured by dart immobilization. Initial trials with carfentanil, xylazine and R51163 as immobilizing agents were conducted. Subsequently, carfentanil alone, or in combination with xylazine, was used. Small doses of xylazine were used when required to control head and hind limb movement of recumbent bison. The mean dose of carfentanil used was 7.0 µg/kg- Narcotic antagonists used were naltrexone, naloxone and M5050. Narcotic recycling was seen in animals treated with naloxone and low doses of naltrexone. Furthermore recycling was suspected in the deaths of several animals treated with these antagonist regimes. No recycling was seen when doses of naltrexone in excess of 90:1 naltrexone : carfentanil were used. We recommend using a naltrexone: carfentanil dose in excess of 125:1 to ensure uneventful recovery.
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