Information Resources for Institutional Animal Care and Use Committees 1985-1999 *************************

Wildlife and Field Research



Safe, Effective and Humane Techniques for Euthanizing Wildlife in the Field

Michael Aprill


Michael Aprill is a recent graduate of the University of Wisconsin--Stevens Point with a degree in biology. During 1994, he served as a Volunteer in the Parks (VIP) for the Division of Resource Management at Hawaii Volcanoes National Park. Originally published in Park Science, Volume 18(1), July 1998.



Resource managers across the national park system are occasionally faced with the need to destroy wildlife species for a number of reasons, such as protection of endangered species, protection of the public health, and population control of species.

When choosing euthanasia techniques as part of a resource management program, managers must select techniques that are humane for the species being euthanized, safe for personnel carrying out the procedure, not dangerous to park visitors or nontarget species, and appropriate for the location and feasible within personnel and budgetary constraints.

In selecting a euthanasia technique, the manager must first consider that the technique is efficient and humane for the target species (American Society of Mammalogists 1987). The universally accepted standards for these criteria are found in the ô1993 Report of the American Veterinary Medicine Association (AVMA) Panel on Euthanasia (American Veterinary Medical

Euthanasia by the injection of barbiturates (e.g., sodium pentobarbital) is perhaps the most humane euthanasia technique, and it is suitable for most species, safe for personnel performing the procedure, and moderate in cost (Fakkema 1994; Grier and Clovin 1990; American Humane Association 1988). Barbiturates are one of the cheaper euthanasia agents. However, as a controlled substance, the use of barbiturates requires a permit from the Drug Enforcement Administration, secure storage, and veterinarian supervision. The animal must be restrained during administration (e.g., squeeze cage) and personnel performing the procedure must be skilled. Dosages must be correct for the species and the animals weight. A parks maintenance staff may construct squeeze cages of their own design or by using designs found in the literature. If a veterinarian is not on staff, one may be available from a nearby humane society or a local vet may be willing to consult as a nonpaid volunteer.

Another effective, humane, safe, and inexpensive euthanizing technique is carbon dioxide (Erickson 1994). This technique works well for most animals; however, some species and neonates may have some increased tolerance to carbon dioxide. Because carbon dioxide is heavier than air, care must be taken to completely fill the chamber before exposing the animal to the gas. This is of special concern with tall or climbing animals. Carbon dioxide is low cost. Supplies include a carbon dioxide canister, carbon dioxide, appropriate plumbing, and a chamber that can be constructed by park personnel. The main disadvantage of this technique is that it may not be suitable for remote or inaccessible locations due to difficulties transporting heavy carbon dioxide canisters.

If done properly by trained personnel, gunshot may be used as a humane form of euthanasia. For each species, the shot must be fired at a specific site on the animal to assure rapid death (Australian Veterinary Association 1987; Longair et al. 1991). One danger of this technique is that a bullet may ricochet off the substrate or cage and injure the shooter or others. The shooter must also have adequate eye and hand protection due to the possible danger from blood-borne pathogens. Additionally, there may be legal reasons why a manager may not want to use firearms in a park.

Managers wishing to learn more about specific euthanasia techniques are encouraged to consult the resources cited in this article or attend a euthanasia seminar sponsored by an organization such as the American Humane Association. For a summary of humane euthanasia techniques see table 1.

Table 1--Humane euthanasia techniques*

Method Advantages & Disadvantages Cost
Injection

Barbiturates

Most preferred method of euthanasia

Suitable for most species.

Safe for personnel performing procedure.

Requires DEA permit, secure storage, and veterinary supervision.

Requires squeeze cage, which may be easily constructed by park personnel.

Moderate
Carbon Dioxide

CO2

Works well for most species.

Some species and neonates may exhibit increased tolerance to CO2.

Special care must be taken with tall or climbing animals to completely fill the chamber before exposing the animal.

CO2 chamber may be easily constructed by park personnel.

Safe for personnel performing the procedure.

May not be suitable for remote locations due to weight of CO2 canisters.

Low
Gunshot Firearm must be of appropriate caliber and impact for species and must be delivered to specific site on animal.

Requires skilled marksman.

Possible danger to shooter from ricochet.

Possible legal constraints in some parks.

Moderate
*All methods can be humane and safe if administered by properly trained personnel

Literature Cited

American Humane Association. 1988. Operational guide for animal care and control agencies. American Humane Association, Denver, Colorado.

American Veterinary Medical Association. 1993. Report of the AVMA Panel on Euthanasia. Journal of the American Veterinary Medicine Association 202(2):229-249.

Australian Veterinary Association. 1987. Guidelines on humane slaughter and euthanasia. Australian Veterinary Journal 64:4-7.

Choate, J. R., editor. 1987. Acceptable field methods in mammalogy: Preliminary guidelines approved by the American Society of Mammalogists. Journal of Mammalogy 3(2) (Suppl.):1-18.

Erickson, R. 1994. Carbon dioxide euthanasia chamber. Wildlife Control Technology (December):12-13.

Fakkema, D. 1994. Euthanasia 101:94AHA-46-47. Two audio cassettes. American Humane Association. Hollywood, California.

Greyhavens, T. 1989. Handbook of pentobarbital euthanasia. Humane Society of the Willamette Valley, Salem, Oregon. 126 p.

Grier R. L., and T. L. Clovin. 1990. Euthanasia guide (for animal shelters). Moss Creek Publications, Ames, Iowa.

Longair, J. A, G. G. Finley, M. A. Laniel, C. Mackay, K. Mould, E. D. Olfert, H. Rowsell, and A. Preston. 1991. Guidelines for euthanasia of domestic animals by firearms. Canadian Veterinary Journal 32(12): 724-726.


Bibliography


Bekoff, M. (1995). Marking, trapping, and manipulating animals: some methodological and ethical considerations. In Wildlife mammals as research models in the laboratory and field: proceedings of a seminar sponsored by the Scientists Center for Animal Welfare held in San Francisco, California at the American Veterinary Medical Association meeting on July 12, 1994, Greenbelt, MD: Scientists Center for Animal Welfare, pp. 31-47.
NAL call number: SF406.W55 1995
Descriptors: wild animals, mammals, wild birds, marking, capture of animals, trapping, wildlife management, animal experiments, bioethics, animal welfare.

Bielitzki, J.T. (1996). The Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee within the zoological park: selecting and training members. In The well-being of animals in zoo and aquarium sponsored research, G.M. Burghardt, J.T. Bielitzki, J.R. Boyce and D.O. Schaeffer (eds.), Greenbelt, Maryland: Scientists Center for Animal Welfare, p. 107-110.
NAL call number: QL77.5.W45 1996
Descriptors: animal welfare, zoological research, wild animals in captivity, training new members.

Bowman, P. (1989). Institutional animal care and use committee: Review of wildlife field research. Lab Animal 18(3): 28-30.
NAL call number: QL55.A1L33
Descriptors: wildlife management, wild animals, animal research, research institutes, animal welfare, surveys.

Cooper, J.E.(1998). Minimally invasive health monitoring of wildlife. Animal Welfare 7(1): 35-44.
NAL call number: HV4701.A557
Descriptors: wild animals, animal health, monitoring, animal welfare, techniques, alternatives.

Elliott, C.L. (1995). Meeting animal care obligations in wildlife education. Wildlife Society Bulletin 23(4): 631-634.
NAL call number: SK357.A1W5
Descriptors: education, research, surveys, wildlife, training, prevention, institutions, animal welfare, wild-animals.

Kohn, B. (1996). IACUCs: how do they relate to zoos and aquariums? In The well-being of animals in zoo and aquarium sponsored research, G.M. Burghardt, J.T. Bielitzki, J.R. Boyce and D.O. Schaeffer (eds.), Greenbelt, Maryland: Scientists Center for Animal Welfare, p. 103-106.
NAL call number: QL77.5.W45 1996
Descriptors: animal welfare, aquaria, zoological gardens, regulations.

Kohn, B. and S.L. Montfort (1997). Research at zoos and aquariums: Regulations and reality. Journal of Zoo and Wildlife Medicine 28(3): 241-250.
Descriptors: Exhibit animals, zoos, aquariums, research, regulations.

Kreger, M.D. (1995). Management of wild mammals in the laboratory: other species. In Wildlife mammals as research models in the laboratory and field: proceedings of a seminar sponsored by the Scientists Center for Animal Welfare held in San Francisco, California at the American Veterinary Medical Association meeting on July 12, 1994, Greenbelt, MD: Scientists Center for Animal Welfare, pp. 11-22.
NAL call number: SF406.W55 1995
Descriptors: wild animals, laboratory animals, mammals, disease models, animal models, animal husbandry, regulations, resource materials, animal welfare.

Michener, G.R. (1989). Ethical issues in the use of wild animals in behavioral and ecological studies. In Animal Care and Use in Behavioral Research: Regulations, Issues, and Applications J.W. Driscoll (ed.), Beltsville, Maryland: United States Department of Agriculture/National Agricultural Library, pp. 37-43.
NAL call number: AHV4762.A3A64
Descriptors: field studies, animal care committees, maintaining wild species, guidelines.

Olsen, G.H. (1989). The Animal Welfare Act and the zoo: A positive approach. Journal of Zoo and Wildlife Medicine 20(2): 135-137.
NAL call number: SF601.J6
Descriptors: zoo animals, legislation, regulations.

Orlans, F.B. (1988). Field Research Guidelines: Impact on Animal Care and Use Committees, Scientists Center for Animal Welfare, Bethesda, MD, 23 p.
NAL call number: HV4704.F5
Descriptors: treatment of animals, wildlife, standards.

Peck, F.R. and R.C. Simmonds (1995). Understanding animal research regulations: obligations of wildlife departments and field researchers. Wildlife Society Bulletin 23(2): 279-282.
NAL call number: SK357.A1W5
Descriptors: wildlife, animal experiments, animal welfare, regulations.

Putman, R.J. (1995). Ethical considerations and animal welfare in ecological field studies. Biodiversity and Conservation 4(8): 903-915.
NAL call number: QH75.A1B562
Descriptors: wild animals, wildlife, animal welfare, capture of animals, trapping, marking, stress, mortality, research, ecology, field experimentation, ethics.

Shoemaker, A.H., K.L. Vehrs, R. Howarth, and W. Fontana (1994). AZA (American Zoo and Aquarium Association) Manual of Federal Wildlife Regulations, Bethesda, Maryland: American Zoo and Aquarium Association, 2 volumes: v. 1. Protected species; v. 2. Laws and regulations.
NAL call number: KF5640.A4A9 1994
Descriptors: wildlife conservation, animal welfare, endangered species, wild animal trade.

Waples, K.A. and C.S. Stagoll (1997). Ethical issues in the release of animals from captivity. BioScience 47(2): 115-120.
NAL call number: 500 Am322A
Descriptors: wild animals, release, animal welfare, ethics.


Useful World Wide Web Sites


American Society of Mammalogists, Animal Care and Use Committee
http://www.mammalsociety.org/committees/
The sustaining goals of the Animal Care and Use Committee are to serve as a liaison to society members on matters concerning the care and use of wild mammals, to assist in the interpretation of new or revised governmental regulations, and to provide government and non-government agencies with reasoned, professional advice on matters of animal care and use of wild mammals.

Arizona State University, Handling Hantavirus
http://researchintegrity.asu.edu/iacuc/specialtopics/hantavirus.htm
Guidelines for wildlife researchers.

New South Wales Agriculture, Animal welfare guidelines
http://www.agric.nsw.gov.au/reader/2754
This site is provided by the government of New South Wales, Australia. Topics include: draft guidelines for the use of pitfall traps; guidelines for animal care and ethics committees (ACECs) supervising research on captive wildlife; guidelines for collection of voucher specimens; guidelines for opportunistic research on free living wildlife; individuals and institutions engaged in collaborative research.

University of Florida, Animal Care and Use
http://iacuc.ufl.edu
This site provides access to rules and regulations that govern wildlife research at the University of Florida.




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Last updated July 26, 2001