The aim of this study was to evaluate effect of a short-acting neuroleptic (acepromazine) on capture stress response in roe deer (Capreolus capreolus). Sixteen roe deer were captured by drive-nets in the winters of 1998, 1999, and 2001. Roe deer were divided into two groups: animals in the treatment group received an intramuscular injection of acepromazine (0.093 mg/kg±0.003 SEM; n=8) while animals in the control group (n=8) did not receive tranquilizer. Heart rate and body temperature, as well as hematologic and biochemical indicators of stress, were used to evaluate effect of the neuroleptic over 3 hr. Heart rate decreased over time after capture in both groups (P<0.05), but stabilized sooner in the treated roe deer (75 min after capture) than in the controls (105 min after capture). Body temperature decreased over 45 min and then stabilized in both groups (P<0.05). Comparisons of blood parameters revealed significantly lower red blood cell count (RBC), lymphocyte count, hemoglobin concentration, packed cell volume (PCV), and serum alanine aminotransferase (ALT), aspartate aminotransferase (AST), creatine kinase (CK), and lactate dehydrogenase (LDH) activities in tranquilized animals compared with controls (at least P<0.05). A reduction in PCV, lymphocyte count, and serum cortisol concentrations (at least P<0.05) and an increase in serum creatinine levels (P<0.05) were recorded over time in control animals, while a reduction in RBC and hemoglobin concentration (at least P<0.05) and an increase in serum urea concentrations (P<0.05) over time were observed in the treated group. Finally, a decrease in serum lactate and potassium levels and an increase in CK, AST, ALT, and LDH activities were recorded over time in both groups. Results obtained showed the suitability of using acepromazine in capture operations in order to reduce stress response and prevent its adverse effects in roe deer. The beneficial effect was not only due to the sedative effect of acepromazine, but also to peripheral vasodilatation.
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