SEATTLE (AP) -- A new species of duck, only recently spotted in the wilds of Washington state, has been forced into extinction.
Hunters aren't happy about it, but the state's Fish and Wildlife Commission is -- in fact, the government officials banned the breed.
The species is informally referred to as ''roboducks,'' and duck hunters had been using the electronic and battery-powered birds to lure the real ones into their sights until they were ordered to stop earlier this month.
The robot decoys -- which make a wing-flapping movement intended to let other ducks know it's safe to land -- were introduced a few years ago but only really became popular last season.
They also caught the eye of the commission, which oversees everything from bird-watching to deer hunting in the state.
After studying the issue, the commission ruled that the new technology goes against the rule of ''good fair chase.'' In short, the commission said, the decoys make duck hunting too easy.
Washington is the second state, after Pennsylvania, to ban the robots. In California, hunters can use them in the second half of the season only.
Russ Cahill, a former duck hunter who heads the commission, says the decision came down to a ''general philosophical bent'' among commissions members, the majority of whom prefer more traditional hunting methods.
''The animals should have a pretty good chance, and the higher technology things that are brought out don't seem fair,'' Cahill says.
The commission also opposes hunting with certain high-tech laser sights ''like the kind you see in all those bad movies,'' Cahill says, and does not allow recorded duck sounds.
But duck-hunters are allowed to use wooden or plastic duck calls and traditional or wind-powered decoys.
Hunters who oppose the ban say the commission is splitting hairs by allowing advances such as semiautomatic weapons but not robot decoys.
Steffen Gambill, 30, a duck hunter and salesman at Seattle's Outdoor Emporium, is the first to admit the roboducks make it easier and quicker to attract fowl. But he argues that by drawing birds in closer, hunters have a better chance of making a clean shot.
Without the decoys, he says, many hunters will take farther shots, which increase the risk of wounding -- but not killing -- ducks.
Plus, he says, it's not like the roboducks negate all skill and effort. You still have to get up at 2:30 a.m., lug your gear into the woods, set your decoys in a believable pattern and know how and when to aim and fire.
''There's a lot more to duck-hunting than just setting out a robot duck,'' Gambill says.
Gambill also says the robot decoys only work for about half a season -- after a while, the ducks get smart to the fake flapping and steer clear.
Don Kraege, the department of fish and wildlife's waterfowl program manager, says he thinks many hunters are angry the commission went against what they see as popular opinion. In an informal Internet poll, Kraege says, the majority of the 1,200 responses opposed the ban.
Kraege is still hearing from angry hunters and robot decoy manufacturers. Cahill, too, expects to hear more about the ban, although he doubts the commission will reconsider it.
Earlier this week, he couldn't even attend a funeral without being approached on the robot decoy issue.
He attributes the controversy more to a hunter's love of gadgets than anything else.
''It's not so much the hunting itself, but a lot of them are very concerned about the things they hunt with,'' Cahill says. ''They'll sit around and have a three-hour discussion over which kind of cartridge is better. ... There's an amazing amount of hoo-ra-ra any time we have anything to do with equipment.''
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(Distributed by The Associated Press)
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