ANCHORAGE, Alaska (Reuters) - Alaska officials are moving to outlaw the use of stun guns to zap wild animals in America's last frontier.
It's not clear whether anyone in Alaska is wielding stun guns against wild beasts, but the regulation approved at a state Board of Game meeting last week is aimed at stopping a problem before it starts.
"This was a proactive measure," Larry Lewis, a wildlife manager with the Alaska Department of Fish and Game, said on Tuesday. "With new, emerging technology, there's always potential for misuse."
The regulation, which applies to stun guns such as Tasers and other electronic devices, will go into effect July 1.
Among other things, the new rule seeks to prevent what Lewis called "catch-and-release hunting," a potential use of the devices on animals. "It is conceivable that, as this technology evolves and becomes more and more available, someone could do that," he said.
He added that an animal which has been hit with a Taser might react in surprising ways.
The pending ban will not apply to trained professionals doing field research or to certain emergency situations.
"This does not prohibit somebody from using an electronic control device as a defensive tool," Lewis said.
Since 2005, when state biologists started using electronic control devices in Alaska, they have found wild beasts usually flee when hit with the current, he said.
"However, there's no guarantee," he said.
(Reporting by Yereth Rosen: Editing by Alex Dobuzinskis and Jerry Norton)