To investigate plasma lactate concentrations of etorphine-immobilized moose in relation to environmental, temporal and physiological parameters.
Prospective clinical study.
Fourteen female and five male moose (Alces alces), estimated age range 1–7 years.
The moose were darted from a helicopter with 7.5 mg etorphine per animal using projectile syringes and a dart gun. Once immobilized, the moose were approached, a venous blood sample was obtained and vital signs including pulse oximetry were recorded. Diprenorphine was administered to reverse the effects of etorphine. Timing of events, ambient temperature and snow depth were recorded. Blood samples were cooled and centrifuged before plasma was harvested and frozen. The plasma was thawed later and lactate analysed. Data were analysed using descriptive statistics and regression analysis.
All animals recovered uneventfully and were alive 12 weeks after immobilization. Mean ± SD plasma lactate was found to be 9.2 ± 2.1 mmol L)1. Plasma lactate concentrations were related positively to snow depth and negatively to time from induction of immobilization to blood sampling. The model that best described the variability in plasma lactate concentrations used induction time (time from firing the dart to the moose being immobilized). The second best model included induction time and snow depth.
Conclusions and clinical relevance
Plasma lactate concentrations in these etorphine-immobilized moose were in the range reported for other immobilized wild ruminants. Decreasing induction time, which may be related to a more profound etorphine effect, and increasing snow depth possibly may increase plasma lactate concentrations in etorphine-immobilized moose.