Blood and Urinary Profiles of Free-Ranging Desert Mule Deer in Arizona

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Journal of Wildlife Diseases



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As a corollary to a more comprehensive study on their ecology, we documented blood and urinary profiles for 10 free-ranging desert mule deer (Odocoileus hemionus crooki) (five males, five females) captured by net-gun shot from a helicopter during February 1988 in Saguaro National Monument, Arizona. Pursuit with the helicopter for netting deer ranged from 3 to 15 min. Blood profiles included seven hematological characteristics and 12 serum chemistries, electrolytes, hormones and enzymes. Urine samples were assayed for urea nitrogen, creatinine, sodium, potassium, calcium and phosphorus. Urinary data were compared as ratios to creatinine. Serum cholesterol was greater (P < 0.05) in males than females. Pursuit time was correlated with serum non-esterified fatty acids (r = 0.67, P < 0.05) and influenced urinary specific gravity (r2 = 0.77, P < 0.004), urea nitrogen : creatinine (r2 = 0.79, P < 0.005), and potassium : creatinine (r2 = 0.42, P = 0.08) ratios. Increasing specific gravity was related to urinary creatinine concentration (r2 = 0.72, P < 0.008). All deer exhibited acute adrenal stimulation, accompanied by elevated serum creatine phosphokinase and urinary potassium : creatinine ratios, which were indicative of acute excitement and muscle trauma associated with the capture process. We demonstrated that urinary data are a valuable supplement to serum data in demonstrating effects of intense physical exertion, and both forms of data emphasize the need to assess capture-related excitability as a source of variation in blood and urine characteristics of free-ranging desert mule deer.

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