Friends of Animals is calling on Connecticut’s Department of Energy and Environmental Protection to immediately halt the killing of birds that are snatching fish from its hatcheries.

This practice by DEEP raises more questions for Connecticut taxpayers than it answers. The biggest question: Why do agency officials intervene between the birds and fish at all? The birds they shoot down to protect state fish hatcheries have no other alternative to feed themselves. Humans do.

DEEP employees have killed more than 100 birds in the past three years, according to a Hartford Courant report published this week.

DEEP says it’s trying other non-lethal ways to protect the birds, which include blue herons, common mergansers and  belted kingfishers, but it doesn’t have enough money in its budget.

The best way DEEP can protect its budget is not to be in the hatchery business at all. The state spends $3 million a year to operate the hatcheries, providing 1.2 million fish to state waterways. But why are anglers in the state being subsidized by taxpayers? Non-anglers who enjoy wildlife watching contribute millions to the state’s economy and watching a blue heron be shot out of the sky is not one of the wonders they were expecting to see.

If DEEP can’t fully commit to non-lethal methods to protect its fish farms it should get out of the business altogether, hook, line and sinker.

“Birds shouldn’t have to die to make it more convenient for the sport of fishing, ’said Friends of Animals President Priscilla Feral. “This isn’t an issue of the cupboards being bare situation. The state is shooting birds to bolster a small percentage of anglers’ sporting activity. Either way the fish die. But do the birds have too as well?”