[MARMAM] Darting fur seals paper

Jane McKenzie janemckenzie at malpage.com
Thu Sep 20 20:27:03 PDT 2012

The following paper on darting fur seals was recently published on
line. The full article is available on Early View, Marine Mammal
Science, published by Wiley or contact Jane McKenzie
(janemckenzie at malpage.com) for a PDF.

McKenzie, J., Page, B., Goldsworthy, S. D. and Hindell, M. A. (2012),
Behavioral responses of New Zealand fur seals (Arctophoca australis
forsteri) to darting and the effectiveness of midazolam and
tiletamine-zolazepam for remote chemical immobilization. Marine Mammal
Science. doi: 10.1111/j.1748-7692.2011.00553.x
Article first published online: 26 APR 2012, Wiley Online Library

We evaluated the behavioral response of 125 free-ranging New Zealand
fur seals (75 females and 50 males) to darting and the effectiveness
and safety of midazolam and tiletamine-zolazepam for remote chemical
immobilization. Behavioral reactions to darting were minor and brief.
Overall, severe reactions to darting such as long flight responses
(7%) and escape to the sea (7%) were uncommon. Midazolam administered
by dart failed to produce a satisfactory level of immobilization.
Tiletamine-zolazepam was administered to 120 animals (35 females and
85 males), 104 of which were successfully immobilized and 16 escaped
to the water following darting or attempted net capture. At least 10
of the 16 animals are known to have survived. Tiletamine-zolazepam
caused moderate depression of swimming and diving behavior in the
animals that escaped to the water. Data from dive loggers confirmed
that seals that escaped remained near the sea surface for extended
periods. Tiletamine-zolazepam administered by dart at a mean dosage of
1.87 ± 0.18 mg/kg for females and 1.49 ± 0.23 mg/kg for males provided
effective and safe immobilization, reducing capture stress for both
animals and personnel. Although there is still a risk of drugged
animals escaping to the water and possibly drowning, this risk is much
lower than previously reported for other pinnipeds.

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