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Alaska Officials Tout Tasers in Wildlife Control Efforts

Jun 10, 2010 – 2:45 PM
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Sharon Weinberger

Sharon Weinberger Contributor

(June 10) -- Tasers, the nonlethal stun guns popular among law enforcement officials, are being considered for official use on large wild animals in Alaska and may soon be coming to other states.

Some Alaska wildlife officials have been using Tasers in animal management for several years, according to The Vancouver Sun. Larry Lewis, a wildlife technician with the Alaskan Department of Fish and Game in Soldotna, told the paper how he first came up with the idea: "I had an epiphany while being chased by an angry moose."

Lewis, who talked about his Taser use at a recent conference in Alaska, says he ended up working with a biologist and a veterinarian, as well as the company that manufacturers Tasers, to test the weapon on moose. He has recently been talking with wildlife control officials in other states about using the Taser.

"I didn't get one negative comment," he told the Sun. "Mainly what I heard was that if this saves an animal's life, it's a useful tool."

Produced by the company Taser International, the weapon, which is designed to stun humans, delivers an electric current that disrupts muscle control, causing the body to freeze up.

Law enforcement has used standard Tasers -- which are not officially marketed for animals -- on wild animals and domestic pets with mixed results. But the American Veterinary Medical Association says Tasers should not be used on animals at all.

"Many communities are considering equipping their animal control and other front-line officers with electro-muscular disruptive devices or Taser devices," the association says. "However, there is a lack of credible data on their safety and effectiveness in animal control situations."

Andrew Hinz, Taser's director of technical services, confirmed to AOL News that the company had collaborated with fish and game officials on a study on Taser use. The company has been working on a specialized Taser for large animals and wildlife, which is said to be about four times more powerful than the one used on humans.

Hinz says the company is working on developing safety protocols and "looking at a possible market" for the device in wildlife protection.
Filed under: Nation
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