Use Of Stimulants In Reducing Mortality In Narcotized Turkeys

Use of lethal dosages of tribromoethanol-treated grain in wild turkey trapping operations, followed by prompt use of two stimulants (pure caffeine in sodium benzoate and amphetamine sulfate) and other treatment procedures improved capture success and minimized mortality. In the last decade L. E. Williams and colleagues (1966, 1967, 1970) in Florida reported increasingly improved success in capturing wild turkeys by means of oral drugs. In recent years other states-among them Massachusetts, North Carolina, South Carolina and West Virginia-have used the technique. North Carolina turkeys are often sowary at trap sites that drugs offer the most effective means of capturing them, particularly in winter and early spring. In North Carolina, where wild-trapped stock is difficult and expensive to obtain, 27 turkeys were captured by means of tribomoethanol in 1971 and 37 in 1972, following generally the procedures described by Williams et al. (1970). Loss from overdosage totalled three (II percent) in 1971 and many turkeys escaped as a result of underdosage. It was concluded that higher dosages would enable a large number of captures if means could be found to minimize mortality. In 1972, following consultation with veterinarians and with biochemists at the University of North Carolina, a decision was made to use higher dosages of tribromoethanol to increase the efficiency of trapping operations and stimulants to curtail mortality. Tribromoethanol dosage levels used were 11.0 to 13.0 grams per cup of grain for hens and 13.0 to 18.0 grams per cup for males. These levels were all regarded as potentially lethal under the aforementioned procedures of Williams; however, allowance must be made for the large number of variables influencing any attempt to capture turkeys with oral drugs. The stimulants used were pure caffeine in sodium benzoate (normally used intramuscularly, occasionally intravenously) and a 5.0 percent parenteral solution of amphetamine sulfate (amfetasul) injected intraperitioneally. Both drugs have long been used as stimulants in human and veterinary medicine. Mammals and birds apparently have a very wide tolerance to caffeine, but amfetasul must be used with care, as an overdose can lead to kidney damage. We used no more than 0.25 cc for an adult male, half that amount for a female. In one case an adult male received 0.5 cc in two equal doses 12 hours apart. We normally used amfetasul only when response to caffeine was negative or low, or when caffeine was unavailable.

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