Assessing the efficacy of medetomidine and tiletamine-zolazepam for remote immobilisation of feral horses (Equus caballus)

Zabek, Magdalena A., Wright, John, Berman, David M., Hampton, Jordan O. and Collins, Christina W. (2014) Assessing the efficacy of medetomidine and tiletamine-zolazepam for remote immobilisation of feral horses (Equus caballus). Wildlife Research, 41 7: 615-622. doi:10.1071/WR14108

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Author Zabek, Magdalena A.
Wright, John
Berman, David M.
Hampton, Jordan O.
Collins, Christina W.
Title Assessing the efficacy of medetomidine and tiletamine-zolazepam for remote immobilisation of feral horses (Equus caballus)
Formatted title
Assessing the efficacy of medetomidine and tiletamine-zolazepam for remote immobilisation of feral horses (Equus caballus)
Journal name Wildlife Research   Check publisher's open access policy
ISSN 1035-3712
1448-5494
Publication date 2014
Year available 2014
Sub-type Article (original research)
DOI 10.1071/WR14108
Open Access Status File (Author Post-print)
Volume 41
Issue 7
Start page 615
End page 622
Total pages 8
Place of publication Clayton, VIC Australia
Publisher CSIRO Publishing
Collection year 2015
Language eng
Formatted abstract
Context: The study of any wild animal’s home range requires the collection of spatiotemporal data, obtained independently of climatic conditions or time of day. This can be achieved by the attachment of global positioning system (GPS) data loggers, which, in large species, is best achieved by remote immobilisation. Feral horses (Equus caballus) usually occupy remote areas of Australia; however, a considerable population increase has been observed in a close proximity to metropolitan areas of the Australian east coast, creating increasing conflict with human interests.

Aim: The aim of the present study was to investigate the efficacy of remote chemical immobilisation of feral horses with medetomidine combined with tiletamine–zolazepam to facilitate placement of satellite GPS collars.

Methods: Nine feral horses were darted from the ground with 60 mg (i.m.) medetomidine and 1500 mg (i.m.) tiletamine–zolazepam. The effects of medetomidine were reversed with 50–100 mg (i.m. or i.v.) atipamezole 30–40 min after induction (IV/IM). Physiological variables monitored during anaesthesia were heart rate, respiratory rate, temperature and oxygen haemoglobin saturation (Spo2).

Key results: All horses were successfully immobilised with between one and three darts (n = 9). The mean (± s.e.m.) dose of medetomidine was 0.15 ± 0.01 mg kg–1, whereas that of tiletamine–zolazepam was 3.61 ± 0.16 mg kg–1. Mean time from darting to lateral recumbency was 13.3 ± 2.7 min and mean recumbency time was 54 ± 13 min. Vital signs for all anaesthetised animals remained within the normal range during anaesthesia, with the exception of one animal exhibiting a transient drop in Spo2. There were no deaths.

Key conclusions: The combination of medetomidine and tiletamine–zolazepam provided adequate anaesthesia in feral horses in the field for application of GPS collars.

Implications: Although a limited number of horses was immobilised, the present study shows that the combination of medetomidine and tiletamine–zolazepam provides effective short-term anaesthesia for feral horses, affording a practical and field-accessible capture technique. This method could also be applied to other management actions requiring the safe and humane capture of feral horses.
Keyword Atipamezole
Q-Index Code C1
Q-Index Status Confirmed Code
Institutional Status UQ

Document type: Journal Article
Sub-type: Article (original research)
Collections: Official 2015 Collection
School of Veterinary Science Publications
 
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