LOS ANGELES (AP) _ All 350 ducks living on canals near Venice Beach must be destroyed to prevent a viral outbreak from spreading to migrating birds that visit the seaside community, wildlife officials said.

But the extermination, scheduled to begin this morning, has sparked protests in the neighborhood, where residents and tourists feed and love the ducks.

''We're willing to do what it takes to save them,'' said Yolande Michael, who lives on Grand Canal. ''I want them to be quarantined and brought back to the canals. I don't want them to kill all of these ducks.''

Biologists planned to collect the birds - mostly Muscovy, Pekin and mallard hybrids - and give them lethal injections of potassium chloride.

Fifty birds have already died of duck virus enteritis, a form of herpes - also known as duck plague - that infects water fowl.

Duck supporters want the birds to be quarantined and tested, with only those infected killed. But a state official said that plan wouldn't work.

''The virus is very communicable,'' said Larry Sitton, senior biologist with the state Department of Fish and Game, which is running the duck kill with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. ''The chance of this disease getting to the wild population is great.''