With only one exception, all effective drug mixtures currently used for temporary immobilization of deer in the United States (US) are regulated by the US Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) and by independent state agencies. Because situations where temporary immobilization of deer can occur anywhere and at any time, it is not feasible for a few people with the required federal and state controlled-substance permits (e.g., veterinarians and select biologists) to always be available. NalMed-A (nalbuphine-medetomidine-azaperone; ZooPharm, Laramie, Wyoming, USA) does not contain a controlled substance and its purchase only requires a veterinary prescription. If NalMed-A was proven to be as safe and effective as mixtures containing DEA-controlled substances, more trained agency and university personnel could purchase, store, transport, and use drugs for temporary immobilization of deer. In an unpublished study, NalMed-A was tested on white-tailed deer and shown to provide adequate temporary immobilization. However, physiological values before, during and after immobilization were not compared with those for other commonly-used drug mixtures. In addition, the post-immobilization effect on stress hormone levels and deer behavior has not been studied.
Master student Patrick Grunwald, as part of his thesis requirements under the direction of Dr. Gino D’Angelo and Dr. Mark Ruder, is conducting research at the Whitehall Deer Research Facility to properly assess the safety and effectiveness of NalMed-A on white-tailed deer and to understand how it compares to BAM (butorphanol-azaperone-medetomidine; ZooPharm, Laramie, Wyoming, USA), which is a popular Schedule IV controlled substance. This project is funded by the Georgia Department of Natural Resources. The overall goals of this research are to compare safety, immobilization efficacy and associated physiological stress between NalMed-A and BAM. We currently have completed the trials and are in the process of data analysis.
Patrick Grunwald, other UGA personnel and representatives of Georgia Department of Natural Resources diligently monitor a research deer's vital signs and quality of anesthesia during a drug trial.
To provide the best possible assessment of each deer's response to the immobilizing drugs, we monitored arterial gas from blood collected from the ear, in addition to standard vital signs (temperature, heart rate, respiration rate).