U.S. Department of Agriculture: Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service


Date of this Version

January 2007


Published in Proceedings of the National Wild Turkey Symposium 9:51–57.


Alpha-chloralose (AC) has been used as an anesthetic since 1897 to capture or sedate wildlife, including waterfowl, wood-pigeon (Columba palumbus), and black bear (Ursus americana). The first use of AC in the United States was for the capture of house sparrows (Passer domesticus), red-winged blackbirds (Agelaius phoeniceus), and wild turkeys (Meleagris gallopavo) in 1964. Prior to the 1990s, AC was not registered by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for use as an immobilizing agent in the United States for wild animals that might be used for human consumption. In 1992, the FDA granted the US Department of Agriculture (USDA), Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS), Wildlife Services (WS) an Investigative New Animal Drug for AC to capture waterfowl, American coots (Fulica americana), and pigeons (rock doves, Columba livia). During the late 1990s, ravens (Corvus corax) were added the species list on which AC could be used. In 2004, the FDA authorized the addition of sandhill cranes (Grus canadensis) to the list. Knowing that AC had been used on turkeys, the Arizona Game and Fish Department requested WS assistance in reintroducing Gould’s turkeys (Meleagris gallopavo mexicana) to southeastern Arizona. To reduce stress on the birds during handling and testing, we sedated turkeys at the rate of 2.04 g of AC per 1 cup of cracked corn for up to 3 turkeys. In 2003 and 2004, wild turkeys were sedated during quarantine trials, fully recovered from the sedation and were available for relocation. Based on these data and a review of the published literature, we recommend that AC should be considered for future sedations of wild turkeys and that wild turkeys be considered for inclusion on the current Investigative New Animal Drug (INAD) label for AC.