Forty free-ranging elk (Cervus elaphus manitobensis) were captured by net gun in Riding Mountain National Park (Manitoba, Canada) during February 2002 and were administered either saline (control) or xylazine by the intranasal route, to evaluate the efficacy and benefit of intranasal xylazine to reduce stress. Elk that received xylazine had higher relaxation scores than control elk, and the onset of sedation occurred quickly, often <1 min. Serum concentrations of cortisol, creatine kinase, and γ-glutamyltransferase were lower in elk that received xylazine than in control elk. At the conclusion of handling, the intravenous administration of yohimbine quickly abolished the sedative effect of xylazine, which allowed elk to be released without concern of physical injury due to ataxia. The intranasal administration of xylazine can be used to reduce stress in wild animals under situations where they are being handled while physically restrained.
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Vol. 40 • No. 3