Use of a Point-of-Care Analyzer in the Field Under Winter Conditions to Assess Capture Stress of Caribou (Rangifer tarandus)
Capture is potentially one of the most harmful activities to wildlife, yet effects of capture are rarely evaluated. We assessed the practicality of a point-of-care analyzer (i-STAT, Heska Corporation, Fort Collins, CO, USA) to determine venous blood gases, lactate, glucose, and electrolyte levels (CG4+ and EC4+ cartridges) of caribou (Rangifer tarandus) captured during late winter, 2005 and 2006. Median daily temperatures during the 2 yr of study were -7° and -8°C. However, the analyzer has a lower operating temperature limit of 16°C. Samples were run with the analyzer and cartridges held in an insulated fabric bag with heated gel packs and chemical hand warmers, or with the analyzer placed under the clothing and against the skin of the operator. Blood samples were obtained from caribou after they were net-gunned, after transportation by helicopter and snow machine to a holding pen, and after processing. Major causes of cartridge failure were related to temperature, internal analytical failure, or exceeding the maximum detectable level of an analyte (especially lactate). CG4+ cartridges were more likely to have a failure in one or more analyte than did the EC4+ cartridges. The relatively limited storage capacity of the i-STAT was problematic when large numbers of cartridges were run in a short time.
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