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Physiological evaluation of free-ranging moose (Alces alces) immobilized with etorphine-xylazine-acepromazine in Northern Sweden

Alina L Evans12*, Åsa Fahlman34, Göran Ericsson5, Henning Andreas Haga6 and Jon M Arnemo15

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Forestry and Wildlife Management, Hedmark University College, Campus Evenstad, Koppang, NO-2480, Norway

2 Section of Arctic Veterinary Medicine, Norwegian School of Veterinary Science, Tromsø, NO-9292, Norway

3 Faculty of Veterinary Medicine and Animal Science, Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, Uppsala, SE-750 07, Sweden

4 Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, University of Calgary, Calgary, Alberta, T2N 4N1, Canada

5 Department of Wildlife, Fish and Environmental Studies, Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, Umeå, SE-901 83, Sweden

6 Department of Clinical Sciences, Norwegian School of Veterinary Science, Oslo, NO-0033, Norway

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Acta Veterinaria Scandinavica 2012, 54:77  doi:10.1186/1751-0147-54-77

Published: 31 December 2012



Evaluation of physiology during capture and anesthesia of free-ranging wildlife is useful for determining the effect that capture methods have on both ecological research results and animal welfare. This study evaluates capture and anesthesia of moose (Alces alces) with etorphine-xylazine-acepromazine in Northern Sweden.


Fifteen adult moose aged 3–15 years were darted from a helicopter with a combination of 3.37 mg etorphine, 75 mg xylazine, and 15 mg acepromazine. Paired arterial blood samples were collected 15 minutes apart with the first sample at 15–23 minutes after darting and were analyzed immediately with an i-STAT®1 Portable Clinical Analyzer.


All animals developed hypoxemia (PaO2 <10 kPa) with nine animals having marked hypoxemia (PaO2 5.5-8 kPa). All moose were acidemic (ph<7.35) with nine moose having marked acidemia (pH<7.20). For PaCO2, 14 moose had mild hypercapnia (PaCO2 6-8 kPa) and two had marked hypercapnia (PaCO2>8 kPa). Pulse, respiratory rate, pH and HCO3 increased significantly over time from darting whereas lactate decreased.


The hypoxemia found in this study is a strong indication for investigating alternative drug doses or combinations or treatment with supplemental oxygen.

Alces; Moose; Anesthesia; Etorphine; Xylazine; Immobilization