To avoid any suspense, I want to start this review by saying that any veterinarian or wildlife biologist working with wild species will find this book useful and should have it on their shelves. Basically, you should have a copy of this handbook if you are ever likely to need to immobilize a wild animal. This book is coveted by wildlife professionals and written by highly respected and very experienced wildlife veterinarians.
The first edition of this book, published in 1996 and revised in 1997, rapidly found its way into the hands of wildlife biologists and veterinarians around the world because it filled an important open niche as a concise handbook for lugging into the field, if necessary. This new fourth edition continues the tradition started with the first edition by providing quick access to usable information on the immobilization of a wide range of species. Dr. Keith Amass appropriately reviewed the third edition (2007) in the Journal of Wildlife Diseases (October 2009), giving it accolades as a very useful text. I will repeat his caveat that this is not a substitute for training and experience, and add that it is also not an in-depth, all-encompassing reference text. The handbook is designed to help someone rapidly look up a dose of a drug combination that should work with a given species. It is not an exhaustive reference, and the doses presented are those that, in the experience of the authors, would seem to serve best. The significant advantage to this approach is that it avoids the decision paralysis of being presented with every possible combination tried or theorized for a species. The handbook does not give all the details that might be included in the references cited, but it is designed for rapidly finding appropriate drug combination and doses. If the reader needs more information, the reader is expected to move on to the primary literature after the helpful start provided by this handbook.
The key challenge in reviewing a new edition of a so well thought of book is the question of what to recommend to those who already have an earlier edition of the book. This new fourth edition is 30 pages larger than the third edition but retains the same handy handbook size that makes it reasonable to pack on a field project, if desired. It includes a 155-page preface and general materials (an extra seven pages) written in the same wry and straightforward manner of the older editions. An additional 14 pages of doses for individual species and 10 additional pages of references are included, which is a change from the the prior edition (2007). The book remains practical, concise, and well edited. Species coverage is broad, and although I did not work through the two editions to establish which new species were covered, the expansion of the coverage of species of armadillo was an easy first spot. I generally consider this a hoofed stock and large mammal focused guide, primarily based on the experience and work of the authors, but that would be a bit of a disservice to the breadth of its coverage. It is mammal-centric but provides good general information for poikilotherms and birds in more a more general way. It is a bargain in today's world of escalating book prices. If you do not have it, buy it, and if your old copy is dog-eared and worn from constant use, consider a copy of this new edition.