Immobilization of Captive Wapiti Cervus canadensis with Azaperone and Xylazine

Jamie L. Stewart, Danielle E. Strahl-Heldreth, Clifford F. Shipley

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Xylazine, an a2-adrenoreceptor agonist, is commonly used in combination with other drugs for safe and effective immobilization of North American wapiti Cervus canadensis. Azaperone is a neuroleptic sedative that reduces the stress of immobilization and handling, but there are no reports of its efficacy when combined with xylazine for use in wapiti. Our objective was to test the efficacy of a combination of xylazine and azaperone to remotely immobilize captive wapiti for performing routine procedures. We administered drugs intramuscularly using a CO2-powered projector with commercially made darts. We successfully immobilized 11 of 12 wapiti with one remote injection containing estimated doses of 1.3 6 0.05 mg/kg xylazine and 0.2 6 0.03 mg/kg azaperone (mean 6 SD), and immobilized animals were recumbent at 2–12 min after injection (mean: 6 min 40 s). We administered tolazoline as a reversal for xylazine at an estimated dose of 3.0 6 0.6 mg/kg intramuscularly, and all wapiti were standing within 14 min of reversal administration. In a subset of three wapiti, a moderate hypoxemia occurred immediately after immobilization but resolved by 60 min, before xylazine reversal. The combination of xylazine and azaperone resulted in smooth and safe immobilization for performing routine processing in captive North American wapiti. Further studies are needed to determine whether this combination and dose of drugs would be sufficient for immobilization of free-ranging wapiti.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)631-636
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of Fish and Wildlife Management
Issue number2
StatePublished - Dec 2018


  • A2 agonist
  • Azaperone
  • Cervus canadensis
  • Elk
  • Immobilization
  • Tranquilizer
  • Xylazine

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Ecology
  • Animal Science and Zoology
  • Nature and Landscape Conservation


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