Deeply disappointed by Connecticut DEEP

I am deeply disappointed with the D.E.E.P. This acronym stands for the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection. The name is a misnomer since almost every time a news story mentions this group, it almost inevitably ends with the destruction of wildlife. Case in point: Just a few weeks ago yet another young black bear was euthanized. I read of no attempts to relocate or rehabilitate the animal, just a quick decision to destroy. I thought the department’s job is to protect animals. Maybe that protection phrase means job protection? 

I’ve only dialed up the DEEP three times in my life — and, in each instance, the response was less than stellar. The first time I called, I stumbled across a distressed bird on the edge of my property. I was dispensed with at lightning speed and with condescending apathy. The officer explained they don't do birds and my best bet was to look online for a sanctuary. I did but, but in the end, it was too late. Within a few hours that bird was dead. 

The second instance came when I found a baby rabbit (about as big as my thumb) flopping around near a sewer grate very close to oncoming traffic. I watched the helpless creature fumble about and only decided to intervene when the poor little guy tumbled into the road. It was after 5 p.m., so when I called I was transferred to their after-hours information menu – which offered no solutions. I wound up tracking down a small animal rehab group and drove all the way to Enfield at midnight to hand over the tiny fur-ball. 

The last encounter also took place in my neighborhood. I spotted a full-grown coyote sauntering along the double yellow line smack dab in the middle of the street. Thinking something was slightly amiss, I called the DEEP and the officer nonchalantly asked me if the animal was acting peculiar. Jokingly, I answered. "I don't see any ACME boxes nearby." 

Apparently I’m not the first comedian to hit state employees with that joke. He quickly hung up on me, but not before telling me to call back if the animal started acting peculiar. 

If it's my job to save/rescue injured or sick animals, why are my tax dollars going to the DEEP? What exactly does the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection do? 

Please don't get the idea that I'm insinuating that the entire organization is flawed. There are great people and great animal advocates that work for the DEEP. However it appears a culture of killing has emerged, and it's running wild. Almost weekly, we hear of bears — sometimes very young cubs — being destroyed because they're deemed a nuisance. 

According to a source at DEEP, who asked to remain anonymous, it's well known that there’s a quiet practice of exterminating bears by chemical euthanasia as well as sanctioned elimination, using firearms, by wildlife staff. The source explained bears are being caught in culvert traps and instead of being tagged and released, many are being hit with a huge dose of ketamine and euthanized. What you see/hear in the news is just a small fraction of the black bears that are being destroyed. 

There are bear sightings in just about every town in Connecticut, but the northwestern area has most of the "problem bears." A problem bear can range from simply curious to repeated contact with humans. The entire state — less the municipal areas — is suitable for black bear habitat. Cockaponset, Pachaug and Nachaug state forests in eastern Connecticut total nearly 60,000 rural acres and could easily sustain a healthy bear population.

My questions to the hierarchy: Is it simply too much of a hassle to relocate a bear across the state? Are you short staffed? Are you not properly funded?Are you avoiding bad publicity or at the very least attempting to suppress it? 

I’m begging the leadership at the DEEP on behalf of the bears, please get together with your field ops personnel and develop a plan to help save these animals. Your job is environmental protection, not environmental elimination. We are better than this. You are better than this. The DEEP needs to look at itself as the last line of defense for animals, not the first wave of an enemy battalion out to destroy them. 

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