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Research article - Peer-reviewed, 2014

Haematological and biochemical reference intervals for free-ranging brown bears (Ursus arctos) in Sweden

Græsli, Anne; Fahlman, Åsa; Evans, Alina L.; Bertelsen, Mads Frost; Arnemo, Jon; Nielsen, Søren Saxmose


Background: Establishment of haematological and biochemical reference intervals is important to assess health of animals on individual and population level. Reference intervals for 13 haematological and 34 biochemical variables were established based on 88 apparently healthy free-ranging brown bears (39 males and 49 females) in Sweden. The animals were chemically immobilised by darting from a helicopter with a combination of medetomidine, tiletamine and zolazepam in April and May 2006-2012 in the county of Dalarna, Sweden. Venous blood samples were collected during anaesthesia for radio collaring and marking for ecological studies. For each of the variables, the reference interval was described based on the 95% confidence interval, and differences due to host characteristics sex and age were included if detected. To our knowledge, this is the first report of reference intervals for free-ranging brown bears in Sweden.Results: The following variables were not affected by host characteristics: red blood cell, white blood cell, monocyte and platelet count, alanine transaminase, amylase, bilirubin, free fatty acids, glucose, calcium, chloride, potassium, and cortisol. Age differences were seen for the majority of the haematological variables, whereas sex influenced only mean corpuscular haemoglobin concentration, aspartate aminotransferase, lipase, lactate dehydrogenase, beta-globulin, bile acids, triglycerides and sodium.Conclusions: The biochemical and haematological reference intervals provided and the differences due to host factors age and gender can be useful for evaluation of health status in free-ranging European brown bears.


Brown bear; Ursus arctos; Haematology; Biochemistry; Reference intervals

Published in

BMC Veterinary Research
2014, volume: 10, article number: 183

Authors' information

Græsli, Anne
University of Copenhagen
Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, Department of Clinical Sciences
Evans, Alina L.
Hedmark University College
Bertelsen, Mads Frost
Center for Zoo and Wild Animal Health
Hedmark University College
Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, Department of Wildlife, Fish and Environmental Studies
Nielsen, Søren Saxmose
University of Copenhagen

UKÄ Subject classification

Other Veterinary Science

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