The response of game-farm mallards (Frost strain) to seven pharmacological immobilizing agents was evaluated in Phase I of a planned four-phase study. A limited amount of testing was also done with wild mallards. Single dosages were administered to determine the mean effective dose (ED50) and mean lethal dose (LD50), The therapeutic index, or safety factor (LD50/ED50), and palatability were also established. Optimum dosage rates of compounds administered orally on baits were not considered in this phase of the study. Compounds were-administered by intubation and calculated in terms of mg/kg. All except one compound produced narcosis within 5 minutes at the effective dose rate.Immobilization periods for the seven compounds ranged from 7-24 minutes, and recovery periods from 1.0-6.5 hours. Such wide variations in actions of the compounds can be attributed to a compound's rate of absorption, the ease with which it passes the blood-brain barrier, its solubility in tissues, and its rate of metabolism in the liver and kidneys. Length of both the immobilization and recovery periods were extended when dosages were increased. There was no delayed mortality among survivors with any of the seven compounds at either the ED50 or LD50. Females were generally more sensitive to the anesthetizing agents than males. The ED50 for wild mallards was substantially higher than that for the experimental game-farm birds for the two compounds on which this was tested.Tribromoethanol (Avertin of Winthrop Laboratories) satisfied all test criteria an Phase I and will be subjected to more intensive investigation in ensuing tests. Thiopental sodium (Pentothal of Amdal Company) and pentobarbital sodium (Nembutal of Abbott Laboratories) were judged to be marginal. Although their therapeutic indexes were good (5.00), recovery periods were prolonged and toxic convulsions occurred at medium to high dose rates as the LD50 was approached.Alpha-chloralose (Fisher Scientific) proved least promising of the seven compounds, mainly because of its unacceptable therapeutic index (2.25) and because it possesses prolonged induction and recovery periods. Two new experimental drugs, methoxymol and metomidate (Pitman-Moore), appeared effective and safe when administered by intubation but produced a taste aversion when added to bait. Rejection because of taste was also a problem with secobarbital (Seconal of Elanco Products), and its therapeutic index of 2.75 was unacceptable. Monitoring of heart and respiratory rates, and body temperature by telemetry showed promise as a technique for determining physiological response to drug action.
Additional publication details
Testing of selected pharmacological agents for capturing waterfowl [Annual Progress Report]