HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) _ National Boy Scout officials concede the slaughter of chickens and rabbits during a wilderness survival weekend should not have happened, but say the organization will not ban the practice.

The disclosure that scouts were shown how to kill chickens and rabbits and then butcher them for eating raised the ire of animal-rights activists who wanted the Scouts to prohibit such training.

The killing techniques were demonstrated during a camping trip held Sept. 30 through Oct. 2 in Perry County, Afterward, five to 10 scouts tried it themselves, beating the animals on the head with sticks, slitting their throats and hanging the carcasses upside down to drain.

''We agree with you completely that the incident involving the rabbits and chickens should not have happened,'' national Boy Scout spokesman Frank Hebb wrote last week to Edward J. Blotzer Jr., of the Pittsburgh office of the Humane Society.

''For 78 years as a part of our training, we have demonstrated the sixth point of the Scout law: a scout is kind. He does not hurt or kill harmless things without reason, and we hear about it when there are isolated violations,'' Hebb wrote.

G. John Giba, who did not attend the camp but is scoutmaster for one of the troops involved, said the killings were done properly and without malice.

But George Cave, president of Trans-Species Unlimited, a state-wide animal- rights group, said the killings were unnecessary, cruel and not good training for young boys.

''We object to desensitizing children to the killing of animals for no good purpose,'' he said.

Hebb said in a telephone interview Monday that the Boy Scouts will not change current policy or discipline the Scout leaders who led the exercises.

''We do not endorse what they did, but I don't think that there's going to be any action because I think that what they did at the time was perfectly legitimate within our policies,'' he said.

Cave said he was disappointed with the Boy Scout leadership's lack of action on the issue.

''Naturally we're very disappointed in this decision, or the lack of one,'' Cave said.