TECHNIQUE

Tiletamine-Zolazepam Anaesthesia in Bears  (Disease Investigation & Management - Treatment and Care)

Summary Information
Type of technique Health & Management / Disease Investigation & Management / Techniques:
Synonyms and Keywords
  • Telazol anesthesia in bears
  • Zoletil anaesthesia in bears

See also:

Description N.B. Information given in this page is to be used in conjunction with the relevant section on Bears in Treatment and Care - Anaesthesia and Chemical Restraint

Preparation for anaesthesia:

  • Whenever possible (with captive bears), the bear should be moved to a safe, quiet, well-controlled situation away from other bears. (B407.w18, D247.7.w7)
  • Avoid anaesthetising immediately after the bear has eaten, to reduce the risks associated with vomiting and regurgitation during induction, anaesthesia or recovery. (D156.w2)
    • Preferably starve for 24 hours before anaesthesia. (B407.w18)
    • Withhold water for eight hours and food for 24 hours before immobilization. (D247.7.w7)

Administration:

  • Intramuscularly, by pole syringe or remote injection using a blowpipe or dart gun. (J1.16.w14, J1.21.w8, J27.69.w1, J40.53.w2, J59.19.w1)
  • Hand-injection can be used for additional doses in recumbent individuals. (J1.21.w8)
  • Hand injection can be used for cubs-of-the-year in spring and a pole syringe for injecting cubs-of-the-year in autumn. (J1.25.w11)
  • Administration into the neck, shoulder muscle or upper mid-back may be useful in large/fat adults ,rather than into the hind quarters, since the subcutaneous fat layer is thinner, and it is more likely that the injection will reach muscle (which is highly vascularised in these areas). In smaller individuals (harder to hit accurately) or thin bears, injection into the rump minimises the risk of injury. (J1.21.w8, J1.25.w11)
  • See: Intramuscular Injection of Bears

Suggested doses:

  • Bears (Ursidae - Bears (Family))- mean 4.9 mg/kg. (J196.72.w2)
  • In captive bears, 3-4 mg/kg is effective; in wild bears, 5 mg/kg. (B407.w18)
  • Ursus arctos - Brown bear 
    • 8.0 mg/kg. (B345.6.w6)
      • 2.0 mg/kg ketamine can be given as a supplemetal drug if required. (B345.6.w6)
    • 7.0-9.0 mg/kg. (B336.51.w51, J40.53.w2)
      • 7.0-9.0 mg/kg (actual range 3.4-22.2 mg/kg) was used successfully for immobilization of free-ranging grizzly bears. (J40.53.w2)
    • 7-10 mg/kg. (D156.w2)
    • 4.3 mg/kg (range 3.1-5.3 mg/kg). "Surgical anesthesia. Additional doses given to maintain anesthesia."(J196.72.w2)
    • 3.5 +/- 1.8 mg/kg. Induction in 4.0 +/- 2.0 minutes. In captive bears, nine anaesthetics. (J1.16.w14)
    • 5.5 mg/kg used to anaesthetise for suturing a laceration. Provided good anaesthesia for 20 minutes. (J2.5.w2)
    • 8-10 mg/kg. (J345.14.w6)
  • Tremarctos ornatus - Spectacled bear 
    • 6.0 mg/kg. (B345.6.w6, B336.51.w51)
      • This dose rate has been used successfully in the wild. (V.w99)
      • Ketamine 2.0 mg/kg can be given as a supplemental drug if required. (B345.6.w6)
      • Doses of 2.0 - 3.4 mg/kg have been used. (P77.1.w19)
    • Mean 5.7 mg/kg (range 3.2-11.1). "Excellent immobilisation" Two bears which had eaten six hours prior to immobilisation vomited about 40 minutes after injection.(J196.72.w2)
    • Mean 2.8 +/- 0.5 mg/kg. Induction in 15.0 +/- 0.8 minutes. In captive bears, three anaesthetics. (J1.16.w14)
  • Helarctos malayanus - Sun bear 
    • 5.0 mg/kg. (B345.6.w6, B336.51.w51)
    • Mean 4.8 mg/kg (range 4.0-5.5 mg/kg). "Surgical anesthesia. Poor muscle relaxation in two trials." (J196.72.w2)
    • 4.1 +/- 0.9 mg/kg, induction in 8.7 +/- 3.0 minutes. In captive bears, three anaesthetics. (J1.16.w14)
    • 3-5 mg/kg; 5 mg/kg in escaped animals for rapid knock down. (D255.6.w6e)
    • 4 mg/kg estimated body mass for wild bears. (J17.119.w1)
    • In bears at a wildlife rehabilitation centre in Malaysia, 5 mg/kg produced only light anaesthesia with poor muscle relaxation and side-to-side head movements. (J2.34.w4)
  • Ursus maritimus - Polar bear 
    • 8 mg/kg. (B345.6.w6, B336.51.w51)
      • Ketamine 2.0 mg/kg can be given as a supplemental drug if required. (B345.6.w6)
    • 8-10 mg/kg. (D156.w2, J2.30.w5)
    • Mean 4.9 mg/kg (range 3.5-7.0 mg/kg) "Surgical anesthesia." "In several trials additional IM or IV doses were required to maintain anesthesia." (J196.72.w2)
    • 5 mg/kg for wild bears, 3-4 mg/kg for captive bears. (B407.w18)
    • Mean 5.1 mg/kg for satisfactory immobilisation of wild polar bears. (J1.21.w8)
    • Note: Additional dosing may be required following underdosing (e.g. due to underestimation of bodyweight), injection into a poor site, dart failure or delays between injection and handling. (J1.21.w8)
    • 8-9 mg/kg for rapid full immobilisation of wild bears darted from helicopter. (J1.25.w11)
      • Mean doses were slightly lower in autumn (7.9 mg/kg) than in spring (8.9 mg/kg) but frequency distributions of dosages were equivalent. (J1.25.w11)
    • Administered at 8.2 +/- 1.3 mg/kg. (P1.1996.w5)
    • Administered at 8.2 +/- 2 mg/kg. (P20.1998.w10)
  • Melursus ursinus - Sloth bear
    • 6.0 mg/kg. (B345.6.w6, B336.51.w51)
      • Ketamine 2.0 mg/kg if required as a supplemental drug. (B345.6.w6)
    • 5.5 - 6.6 mg/kg. (D156.w2)
  • Ursus thibetanus - Asiatic black bear
    • 4.4 mg/kg. (B345.6.w6, B336.51.w51)
    • 3.8-4.4 mg/kg. (D156.w2)
    • 9.0 mg/kg for an hour of handling, in both wild and captive Japanese black bears (Ursus thibetanus japonicus). Some individuals which initially received 6.9 +/- 1.0 mg/kg required a top-up dose, giving a total dose of 9.6 +/- 1.0 mg/kg. Hibernating bears were anaesthetised with 5.2 +/- 0/9 mg/kg; induction times were prolonged (22 +/- 14 minutes), probably related to reduced metabolism. (J27.69.w1)
  • Ursus americanus - American black bear
    • 7.0 mg/kg recommended. (B345.6.w6, B336.51.w51, J59.19.w1)
    • 3.5 +/- 1.8 mg/kg. Induction in 4.0+/- 2.0 minutes. In captive bears, six anaesthetics. (J1.16.w14)
    • Mean 6.8 mg/kg, range 3.4-22.2 mg/kg. (J59.19.w1)
    • 5.4 +/- 0.4 mg/kg (mean +/-SE), range 2.6 - 10.3 mg/kg in wild bears. (J59.24.w1)
      • Recommend 4.4-5.5 mg/kg. (J59.24.w1)
    • 4.0 mg/kg for black bear cubs over 9 kg, during rearing and rehabilitation. (P62.13.w2)

During induction:

  • Rapid induction. (J1.16.w14)
  • Induction in 3-46 minutes (mean 13 minutes) following injection at 3.1-11.1 (mean 4.9) mg/kg. (J196.72.w2)
  • Most polar bears developed increasing ataxia, starting about two minutes after injection, were sitting down by about 3.5 minutes, showed compulsive licking, developed sternal recumbency at mean 5.1 minutes (range 3-19 minutes), developed random head movements, nystagmus (usually vertical), head relaxation and finally full anaesthesia with no tongue withdrawal reflex by about 20 minutes. (J1.21.w8)
  • In polar bears darted with 8-9 mg/kg, ataxia started at about 2.5 minutes (range 0-9 minutes), sternal recumbency developed after about 4.5 minutes (range 0-14 minutes) and full immobilisation after about five minutes (range 1-14 minutes). (J1.25.w11)
  • In polar bears given 8.2 +/- 1.3 mg/kg (mean +/- SD), immobilisation occurred in 4.6 +/- 1.5 minutes. (P1.1996.w5)
  • In polar bears given 8.2 +/- 2 mg/kg, immobilisation occurred in 3.7 +/- 1 minute. (P20.1998.w10)
  • Generally ataxic and stumbling with incoordination of the hind limbs then the forelimbs. (J2.30.w5)
  • In Ursus arctos - Brown bears anaesthetised with 9.7 +/-0.9 mg/kg tiletamine-zolazepam, induction took mean 6.3 +/- 0.6 minutes (median 5.0, range 2.0-18.0 minutes). (J345.14.w6)
  • In wild Ursus arctos - Brown bears injected with 3.4-22.2 mg/kg, immobilisation occurred in 0.3-15.4 minutes (median 4.0, mean 4.3 +/- 2.8 minutes). It was noted that with doses of approximately 5.0 mg/kg immobilisation did not occur in less than 10 minutes and some bears required further dosing. For 63 bears given 7-9 mg/kg, 61 bears were immobilised successfully in 4.1 +/- 1.8 minutes. Bears given high doses (17.5-22.2 mg/kg had a shorter induction time (1.6 +/- 0.7 minutes). Signs of induction were: "disoriented gait, high stepping, loss of use of hindlegs, licking lips, loss of use of forelegs, loss of head and neck movement, nystagmus and loss of tongue movement."(J40.53.w2)
  • In wild Ursus americanus - American black bear given mean 6.8 mg/kg "2-3 minutes - increasing loss of muscular coordination; 3-4 minutes - sitting down, compulsive licking; 5 minutes - sternal recumbency; 6 minutes - random head movement, nystagmus; 7-10 minutes - relaxation of the head; 20 minutes - loss of withdrawal reflex when the tongue is pulled gently." Induction may be slower if the injection is given into fat rather than muscle. (J59.19.w1)
  • In wild Ursus americanus - American black bear given 5.4 +/- 0.4 mg/kg (mean +/-SE), range 2.6 - 10.3 mg/kg, induction occurred in 16.5 +/- 2.0 minutes (mean +/- SE), with no differences between adults and subadults or lactating versus nonlactating females. (J59.24.w1)

During anaesthesia:

  • The eyes remain open. Ophthalmic ointment is needed to prevent the cornea from drying. (J196.72.w2)
  • The corneal, palpebral, pinnal, pedal, pharyngeal and laryngeal reflexes persist. (J196.72.w2)
  • Muscle relaxation is adequate for most purposes. (J1.16.w14)
  • Light body tremors were observed in a few polar bears, but no convulsions occurred. (J1.25.w11)
  • Thermoregulatory ability remains adequate during anaesthesia, even in polar bears anaesthetised in ambient temperatures above 20 C. (J2.30.w5)
  • Expect heart rates of about 70-90 beats per minute. (D156.w2)
  • Respiratory rates varied from mean eight breaths per minute in Ursus americanus - American black bear to mean 30 breaths per minute in Tremarctos ornatus - Spectacled bear. (J1.16.w14)
  • Heart rate varied from mean 87 bpm in Tremarctos ornatus - Spectacled bear to mean 140 bpm in Ursus americanus - American black bear. (J1.16.w14)
  • Rectal temperature varied from mean 37.8 C in Ursus americanus - American black bear to mean 39.0 C in Ursus arctos - Brown bear. (J1.16.w14)
  • Body temperatures of polar bears darted in the Canadian Arctic ranged from 35.5-38.4 C and generally stayed stable (no more than 0.9 C increase or decrease during the period of anaesthesia). (J1.21.w8)
  • Respiratory rates in polar bears given mean 5.1 mg/kg ranged from 6-44 breaths per minute (mean 89.0 bpm for bears in captivity or darted at the Churchill dump, mean 103.8 bpm for bears darted from helicopter). (J1.21.w8)
  • Heart rates in polar bears given mean 5.1 mg/kg ranged from 60-130 bpm (mean 12.9 per minute for bears in captivity or darted at the Churchill dump, mean 16.2 for bears darted from helicopter). (J1.21.w8)
  • For polar bears given 8-9 mg/kg, bears darted on the Beaufort Sea in spring had temperatures mean 38.9 +/- 1.0 (range 35.2-41.8) C, respiratory rates mean 19 +/- 13 (range 3-80 breaths/minute) and heart rates mean 124 +/- 18 (range 76-172) bpm. Bears darted near Churchill had temperatures mean 36.9 +/- 1.0 (range 34.8-39.4) C, respiratory rates mean 11 +/- 8 (range 3-44) breaths/minute and heart rates mean 106 +/- 17 (range 68-144) bpm. For bears in the Beaufort Sea which had needed more than one injection of anaesthetic drugs, nine bears reached body temperatures greater than 40.0 C; bears which needed more than one injection took longer to return to normal body temperatures. (J1.25.w11)
  • In polar bears anaesthetised with 8-10 mg/kg, rigid extremities, salivation, occasional movements of the jaw and palpebrae; these all increased with noxious stimulation or loud noise. Often respiratory movements were frequent and shallow. (J2.30.w5)
    • One death from aspiration pneumonia was reported, in a polar bear which was feeding before being darted and which regurgitated about 35 minutes after administration of the anaesthetic drugs. (J2.30.w5)
  • Respiratory depression is minimal; ventilation and oxygenation are excellent. (P1.1996.w5)
    • In polar bears given 8.2 +/- 1.3 mg/kg (mean +/- SD), at 30 minutes after administration, body temperature was 37.0 +/- 1.2 C, heart rate 82 +/- 27 bpm, respiratory rate 9 +/- 3 breaths per minute, mean arterial pressure 143 +/- 11 mm Hg, pH (arterial blood) 7.3 +/- 0.5, base excess -3.4 +/- 2, PaO2 94 +/- 26, PaCO2 37 +/- 11 and haemoglobin concentration 139 +/- 6 g/L. Compared with medetomidine-ketamine anaesthesia, mean arterial pressure was significantly (p<0.05) lower, heart rate significantly higher and haemoglobin concentration significantly lower, while the PaO2, respiratory rate trend was higher and the PaCO2 trend was lower. Overall, ventilation and oxygenation were excellent. (P1.1996.w5)
  • Compression of the nail bed with haemostats in polar bears immobilised with mean 8.2 mg/kg tiletamine-zolazepam produced a pronounced spike in heart rate and blood pressure, suggesting poor analgesia. (P1.1996.w5, P20.1998.w10)
  • In polar bears given 8.2 +/- 2 mg/kg tiletamine-zolazepam, compared with individuals given medetomidine-tiletamine-zolazepam, heart rate, respiratory rate, PaO2 and base excess were significantly higher while systolic, mean and diastolic arterial pressures were significantly lower. Oxygenation was excellent. (P20.1998.w10)
    • In polar bears given 8.2 +/- 2 mg/kg tiletamine-zolazepam, at 30 minutes after administration, body temperature was 37.0 +/- 0.2 C, heart rate 71 +/- 21 bpm, respiratory rate 7 +/- 2 breaths per minute, mean arterial pressure 146 +/- 18 mm Hg, pH (arterial blood) 7.28 +/- 0.01, base excess -4.0 +/- 0.7, PaO2 104 +/- 20, PaCO2 46 +/- 3. (P20.1998.w10)
  • In Ursus arctos - Brown bears anaesthetised with 9.7 +/-0.9 mg/kg tiletaine-zolzepam, heart rates were approximately 92-102 bpm, respiratory rate about 25 breaths per minute initially reducing to about 10-15 breaths per minute by an hour after darting, and rectal temperatures were about 38-38.5 C. (J345.14.w6)
  • In Ursus arctos - Brown bears, 7-9 mg/kg gave about 60 minutes safe handling time (range 45-75 minutes) but occasional head movement in some individuals suggested this may not be adequate for surgery. At 15 minutes post immobilisation body temperatures was 39.1 +/- 0.1 C (mean +/- SE), range 34.0-41.9 C, respiratory rate 30 +/- 1.5 (range 6-68) and heart rate 100 +/- 2.7 bpm (range 60-170. In bears monitored at 30-45 minutes, temperature was 37.3 +/- 0.2 C (range 36.2-38.7 C), respiratory rate 17 +/- 0.9 (range 10-22) and heart rate 98 +/- 2.4 (range 80-120) bpm. Excess salivation occurred commonly. The eyes often remained open. (J40.53.w2)
  • In wild Ursus americanus - American black bear given mean 6.8 mg/kg while denning, their body temperature increased from 30.8 C at 15 minutes post-injection. (J59.19.w1)
  • In wild Ursus americanus - American black bear given 5.4 +/- 0.4 mg/kg (mean +/-SE), range 2.6 - 10.3 mg/kg, heart rate was 72-172 bpm (mean 101 bpm), respiratory rate 10-92 breaths per minute (mean 41 breaths per minute) and recta temperatures 37.1 - 41.3 C (mean 39.3 C, SE 0.37 C). Respiratory rate was noted to be higher in bears showing hyperthermia (mean 60 breaths per minute versus mean 25/minute for bears with lower body temperatures, suggesting an increase in respiratory arte in response to increased body temperature. (J59.24.w1)

Duration of anaesthesia:

  • 15-230 minutes (mean 57 minutes) following injection at 3.1-11.1 (mean 4.9) mg/kg. (J196.72.w2)
  • Recovery can be prolonged. (J196.72.w2)
  • Recovery (to standing on all four legs) in polar bears given mean 5.1 mg/kg occurred after a mean of about 126 minutes i.e. two hours (range 66-218 minutes) for those receiving a single dose, but was longer in some bears which had been given additional doses. (J1.21.w8)
  • In polar bears darted with 8-9 mg/kg, recovery to standing  occurred after about 45-55 minutes (range 15-107 minutes). (J1.25.w11)
    • In bears which had received an additional dose, giving a total dose of about 11 mg/kg, recovery took an average of 65 minutes after the first injection (about 40% longer than bears given only a single dose). (J1.25.w11)
  • In 21 bears given 7-9 mg/kg, recovery occurred at 85-160 minutes. In 16 wild Ursus arctos - Brown bears, immobilisation lasted 1.6-2.4 hours; an additional injection of 2-3 mg tiletamine-zolazepam gave a further 45-60 minutes of light anaesthesia. (J40.53.w2)
  • In wild Ursus americanus - American black bear given 5.4 +/- 0.4 mg/kg (mean +/-SE), range 2.6 - 10.3 mg/kg, restraint time was 45 - 420 minutes, mean 150 minutes with only one bear immobilised for more than 236 minutes. (J59.24.w1)

During recovery:

  • Recovery is smooth and takes 2-6 hours from when the anaesthetic was given. (J1.16.w14)
  • Bears start developing chewing, a brisk palpebral reflex and licking as the plane of anaesthesia lightens. (D156.w2)
  • Paw movement and lifting of the head develops. (D156.w2)
    • The procedure should be terminated or, if a longer restraint period is required, the bear should be given additional ketamine or tiletamine-zolazepam. (D156.w2)
  • Recovery is gradual, with initial tongue movement and licking, then movement of the head from side to side, lifting of the head (bears now aware of their surroundings, tracking movements), followed by raising the body up on the forelegs and finally standing on all four legs. (J1.25.w11)
  • Recovery follows the reverse signs to immobilization, but more slowly. (J59.19.w1)
Appropriate Use (?)
  • Highly predictable anaesthetic effects. (J345.14.w6)
  • The drug combination produces minimal adverse effects on the cardiovascular and respiratory systems. (D156.w2, J345.14.w6, J27.69.w1)
  • Rapid effects. (J59.19.w1)
  • There is a wide safety margin. (J59.19.w1, J196.72.w2, J345.14.w6)
  • Safe effective immobilisation for at least one hour, with adequate oxygenation. (P1.1996.w5, J27.69.w1)
  • Induction is rapid. (J196.72.w2, P20.1998.w10)
  • Small doses are required. (J196.72.w2, P20.1998.w10)
  • Safe, reliable immobilization. (P20.1998.w10, J59.19.w1)
  • Bears do not show respiratory depression and their ability to thermoregulate is maintained. (J1.21.w8)
  • Provides excellent analgesia. (J196.72.w2)
  • Analgesia may not be sufficient for e.g. tattooing, or pulling a tooth for age determination. (J59.19.w1)
  • Did not produce good analgesia in polar bears dosed at mean 5.1 mg/kg, as indicated by mouth, lip or head movements during ear tagging and tattooing, and a transient increase in respiratory rate during and immediately after ear tagging and tattooing, even in a bear sedated sufficiently deeply that the tongue withdrawal reflex was absent. (J1.21.w8)
  • Dose-related effects. (J196.72.w2)
  • Recovery is smooth. (J1.16.w14)
  • For rapid full immobilisation, easy interpretation of effects from a distance (allowing safe approach), and adequate analgesia, with a wise safety margin and low mortality. (J1.25.w11)
  • Even Ursus maritimus - Polar bear given 2-3 times the mean dose (mean dose 8-9 mg/kg) did not require artificial respiration. (J1.25.w11)
  • No convulsions, even in bears given 2-3 times overdose. (J1.25.w11)
Notes
  • Safe handling is possible once the bear has reached sternal recumbency. (J1.21.w8)
  • Safe handling for tagging and collection of samples is possible even if the bear is not fully sedated (has not developed full relaxation and head immobility). (J1.21.w8)
  • Maximum effect is not reached until 20 minutes post injection. (J59.19.w1)
  • Duration of recumbency is affected by dose. In an adult bear which had received a total dose of 10.2 mg/kg, deep sedation lasted 229 minutes and the bear stood at 384 minutes. (J1.21.w8)
  • It is preferable to give a slightly higher dose initially to ensure immobilisation, rather than a low dose followed by chasing and re-darting if the first dose is insufficient. (J1.25.w11)
  • The rates at which the two drugs, tiletamine and zolazepam, are metabolised in the body are different from one another. This makes calculation of any required additional dose difficult. (J1.25.w11)
Complications/ Limitations / Risk
  • The anaesthetic cannot be reversed even in an emergency; although the effects of zolazepam can be reversed by administration of flumazenil, there is no reversal agent for tiletamine. (B407.w18, J2.30.w5, J27.69.w1, J59.19.w1, J345.14.w6, P20.1998.w10)
  • Analgesia is poor with this combination, not sufficient for procedures such as removal of a premolar tooth for age determination. (J345.14.w6)
  • Induction can be prolonged (e.g. 20 minutes). (B345.6.w6)
  • Recovery can be prolonged (several hours), particularly if multiple doses have been administered. (J2.30.w5, J59.19.w1, J196.72.w2, J345.14.w6, P1.1997.w9, P20.1998.w10)
    • Following repeated top-ups, bears may remain sedate and inactive for as long as 24 hours. (J2.30.w5)
  • Vomiting may occur with this combination. (J196.72.w2)
    • Avoid using to immobilise bears soon after they have eaten, due to the risk of regurgitation and aspiration pneumonia. (J2.30.w5)
  • Excessive salivation may occur with this combination. (J40.53.w2, J196.72.w2, J196.82.w1)
    • This is not usually a serious problem since the maintenance of the pharyngeal reflex means the animal can still swallow. (J40.53.w2, J196.72.w2)
    • Atropine or another anticholinergic may be given if necessary to reduce salivation. (J40.53.w2, J196.82.w1)
  • The eyes may remain open and should be protected with a sterile ophthalmic ointment. (J40.53.w2)
  • Volumes for large bears can reach or exceed 7 mL; darts containing these volumes are less accurate, and tissue trauma at the site of injection may be increased. (J345.14.w6)
  • Recovery is not always smooth. (P1.1997.w9)
  • Mainly metabolised and excreted via the kidneys, therefore restraint time may be increased in individuals with renal impairment. (J59.24.w1)
  • Physical injury, sometimes severe or even fatal, can occur when bears are darted. (P9.2004.w4, J40.32.w1, D249.w10)
Equipment / Chemicals required and Suppliers
  • Tiletamine-zolazepam (Telazol or Zoletil).

  • Syringe and needle (38 mm 18 gauge) on a syringe pole. (J1.16.w14) 

    • OR projectile syringe with 38-50 mm collared needle and appropriate dart pistol, rifle or blowpipe.

  • Needles of an appropriate length (1.5 - 6 cm, depending on the bear's size and body condition). (J1.25.w11)

  • Barbed darts for darting from helicopter. (J1.25.w11)

Expertise level / Ease of Use
  • Bears are large, powerful carnivores. Anaesthesia of bears should be carried out by experienced personnel. (V.w6)
Cost/ Availability
  • Similar cost to other anaesthetic agents used for immobilization of bears. (J59.19.w1)
  • Not licensed for use in all countries. (J59.19.w1)
  • This drug is a controlled substance in some countries. (J59.19.w1)
Legal and Ethical Considerations
  • A small dose is not lethal in humans (although it may cause behavioural signs indicating toxicosis). (J59.19.w1)
  • In some countries there may be legislation restricting the use of this type of technique to licensed veterinarians. For example in the UK: "The Veterinary Surgeons Act 1966 (Section 19) provides, subject to a number of exceptions, that only registered members of the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons may practice veterinary surgery." (see: LCofC1 - RCVS Guide to Professional Conduct 2000 - Treatment of Animals by Non-Veterinary Surgeons).).

Use of Drugs (Medication):

  • Many drugs are not registered for use in particular species and care should be taken in their use, with proper regard for possible toxic effects. Consideration should be give to relevant legislation regarding the use of drugs.
  • In any country, drugs are unlikely to be specifically licensed for use in bears. 
    • In Europe the prescription cascade must be followed, and the client's informed consent should be obtained, whenever a drug is used which is not licensed for use in a given species. (B284.5.w5)
    • In the UK, guidelines regarding the use of drugs are set out in the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons Guide to Professional Conduct 2000: (see: LCofC1 - RCVS Guide to Professional Conduct 2000 - Choice of Medicinal Products).
    • In the USA, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) regulates specific conditions for the use of drugs in animals and people. The Animal Medicinal Use Clarification Act of 1996 allows extra-label use of approved animal and human drugs under certain conditions, with extra-label use being allowed "in non-food-producing animals if the drug is approved by the FDA, is used by or on order of a licenced veterinarian, and there is a valid veterinarian/client/patient relationship." In food-producing animals (including game wildlife species), additional conditions for extra-label use include that there is no approved alternative drug for such use (or if there is, it is clinically ineffective), the veterinarian has established a substantially extended withdrawal period; the treated animal can be individually identified (e.g. with an ear tag or a collar) and assigned withdrawal times can be assured, ensuring no illegal residues. (B486.11.w11)
  • Additionally, many drugs used for immobilisation are controlled substances in many countries, and appropriate registration/licences, records etc. for the country in which the drugs are being obtained/used must be followed.

Use of remote injection systems

  • In some countries a firearms licence may be required for use of remote injection equipment.
    • e.g. in the UK, anyone possessing a blow-pipe, dart-gun etc. which can be used to discharge tranquillising drugs (i.e. for remote injection), must be authorised by a Firearms Certificate. This is issued by the police. (B284.5.w5)
Author Debra Bourne MA VetMB PhD MRCVS (V.w5)
Referee Suzanne I. Boardman BVMS MRCVS (V.w6)
References B284.5.w5, B336.51.w51, B345.6.w6, B486.11.w11, D156.w2, J1.16.w14, J1.21.w8, J1.25.w11, J2.5.w2, J2.30.w5, J59.19.w1, J196.72.w2, J196.82.w1, J345.14.w6, P1.1996.w5, P1.1997.w9, P20.1998.w10, P77.1.w19, V.w6, V.w99

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