From October 2001 to January 2002, captive free-ranging white-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus) were immobilized with a combination of carfentanil citrate and xylazine hydrochloride. From this study, we selected a dose of carfentanil/xylazine for the purpose of comparing immobilization parameters and physiologic effects with those of a combination of tiletamine and zolazepam (Telazol®) and xylazine. Animals were initially given intramuscular injections of 10 mg xylazine and one of four doses of carfentanil (i.e., 0.5, 1.0, 1.5, and 2.0 mg). A carfentanil dose of 1.2 mg (x̄±SD=23.5±3.2 μg/kg) and 10 mg xylazine (0.2±0.03 mg/kg) were selected, based on induction times and previously published reports, to compare with a combination of 230 mg of Telazol® (4.5±0.6 mg/kg) and 120 mg xylazine (2.3±0.3 mg/kg). Time to first observable drug effects and to induction were significantly longer for deer treated with carfentanil/xylazine than with Telazol®/xylazine (P<0.01). Hyperthermia was common in deer immobilized with carfentanil/xylazine, but heart rate, respiration rate, and hemoglobin saturation were within acceptable levels. Degree of anesthesia of deer immobilized with Telazol®/xylazine was superior to deer immobilized with carfentanil/xylazine. The combination of 120 mg of naltrexone hydrochloride and 6.5 mg of yohimbine hydrochloride provided rapid and complete reversal (1.9±1.1 min) of carfentanil/xylazine immobilization. Animals immobilized with Telazol®/xylazine had long recovery times with occasional resedation after antagonism with 6.5 mg of yohimbine. The combination of carfentanil and xylazine at the doses tested did not provide reliable induction or immobilization of white-tailed deer even though drug reversal was rapid and safe using naltrexone and yohimbine.
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