Oregon to Consider Robo Ban
The Oregon Fish and Wildlife Commission decided Friday to consider limiting the use of electronic or mechanical decoys for the 2003-04 big game and game bird hunting seasons. A decision is expected this October.

Staff biologists were directed to discuss the issue of mechanical and electronic deer and elk decoys during public meetings this summer on soon-to-be drafted management plans. Public input on various types of mechanical and electronic game bird decoys will also occur this summer.

The Commission is the rule-making body for the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife (ODFW). The seven-member panel meets monthly to review policies, direct ODFW staff, and adopt administrative rules

In recent years the use of battery-powered waterfowl decoys has greatly increased and driven the debate. The Commission, however, decided to address the larger issue of all movable decoys. Deer decoys with movable tails exist as do turkey decoys that move on a track. No definitive statistics exist in Oregon, but ODFW biologists estimate the number of hunters using "robo" ducks is more than 50 percent in some popular hunting areas. The devices may or may not resemble a duck. A spinning wing or blade is used to attract birds near a hunter so a clean shot may be taken.

A limited number of studies suggest that hunter efficiency and harvest is higher with the devices. However, the total harvest in the Pacific Flyway and in Oregon has declined in recent years while the number of hunters has remained constant.

During their discussion, Commissioners and staff biologist Brad Bales noted that the issue of these new decoys falls into a debate between traditionalists and those that seek to use new technology.

Bales said of the electronic waterfowl decoys, "You either love these things or you hate them."

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