Chemical immobilization is often needed for safe and effective capture and handling of wildlife. We evaluated medetomi-dine (125, 150, 175, or 200 μg/kg; for synergistic effects and relaxation) mixed with ketamine (1.5 mg/kg; for relatively shorter recovery) and tiletamine-zolazepam (1.0 mg/kg; for rapid induction) in 22 female white-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus) at the University of Georgia Whitehall Deer Research Facility in Athens, Georgia, USA, on 14–15 and 21 May 2009. Deer were weighed before treatment, hand-injected intramuscularly (IM) while restrained in a squeeze chute, and released into a pen for monitoring. We measured rectal temperature, respiration rate, heart rate, hemoglobin saturation (using pulse oximetry), and arterial blood gases at 0, 10, and 20 min postimmobilization. We found no differences in induction time with different doses of medetomidine. Deer became laterally recumbent for all treatments combined at a median of 4.2 (2.6–21.3) min and were approachable by a median of 4.8 (3.5–21.8) min. Twelve of the 22 deer had rectal temperatures >40 C at time 0 and were treated with a cold-water enema. Hemoglobin saturation, estimated using pulse oximetry, was 79.5, 82.0, and 82.3% at times 0, 10, and 20, respectively. We injected atipame-zole (0.35 mg/kg, IM) for reversal. Recovery occurred sooner and was more consistent for 125 and 150 μg/kg medetomidine whereby deer stood with minimal sedation to moderate ataxia within 60–90 min after atipamezole administration. We recommend using 150 μg of medetomidine with ketamine (1.5 mg/kg) and tiletamine-zolazepam (1.0 mg/kg) to provide effective and safe chemical immobilization of white-tailed deer.
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Vol. 48 • No. 2