All that I can say is that the response to our last two postings about hounder/DNR sadism and Wiley and his family have been overwhelming. The passion, anger and, revulsion over the Wisconsin DNR and their plans to allow hounders to “train” their dogs on wolves during the breeding, denning, and birthing season has spread far and wide. On the opposite side the equal passion of heartfelt appreciation for the Hanestad Family and Wiley the coyote has also been overwhelming. Since we started this site a year ago, I have been forced to focus on the non-stop assault against our wildlife by the cruelty cartels that control our state. I have had very little time to focus on the positive stories that seem so far and in between. Rick Hanestad and his relationship with Wiley is one of those stories that cannot just change a family, but it can change a whole culture.
Being a wildlife advocate is not an easy cause to devote yourself to. Contrary to the beliefs of anti-wolf trolls and other predator haters none of us do this for the “money” or to get people to donate. Every single dime that we have received from our generous supporters has gone to pay for tabling at events and the literature to distribute at those events. In fact Patricia and I have spent far more out of our own pockets than we have taken in. The reality is that we do this for the love of wildlife and for a better world. I know that if I can stop or mitigate the suffering of one animal, I will have accomplished something. If I can change the views of one person to appreciate wildlife as LIFE and not just a trophy or a sick thrill kill, I have accomplished something.
Of all of the stories that I have written about these two have generated a response that I never could have imagined, and it makes me have hope in (some) humanity again. Rick’s story reminds me of a guy that I met at the Okefenokee Swamp in Georgia who gave boat tours and spoke about alligators, snakes and other wildlife native to the area. He said that he grew up as a “good ol boy country redneck” (his words) that killed anything and everything that he could. Then one day he was about to kill a snake and had an epiphany. He looked at the snake just going about its life and asked himself, “what the hell am I doing?” He became fascinated with snakes, gators, and other swamp wildlife and he was transformed forever. He told me that he looked back on all of the wildlife he killed and felt disgusted at his actions. I was so impressed with this man and you could just see the passion that he had for the animals that he worked with and he was so proud when he told us about each and every wild gator in his area of the swamp and pointed them out on the boat tours by name, how many babies that he knew they had, and their temperament.
There seems to be a stigma in many areas of this country where it is not “manly” to show affection or care about animals. As an Army veteran and male, I personally don’t care what people think about my love for animals, but many are very self-concious about how they would be perceived for showing any affection for an animal. I had an experience last month while on a layover in Atlanta that made me laugh. We always take our little 9 year old puppy mill breeder rescue Japanese Chin with us when going to visit my in-laws in Georgia. While sitting at the gate waiting for our connection back to Wisconsin I had our little girl sitting on my lap. She attracts attention everywhere we go because she looks like an adorable stuffed animal and this time was no exception. While we were sitting there a group of cammo clad men strutted by like they were big tough guys. As they passed one of them looked at our little girl and got the biggest smile on his face. He then quickly looked forward so his buddies would not catch him looking at our little foo foo dog.
As cynical as I can be in the face of seemingly never ending bad news I saw in the man at Okefenokee and now Rick that change is indeed possible when one has a chance to experience how wonderful living wildlife really is. Please continue to share Rick’s story far and wide and also continue to put pressure on the Wisconsin DNR to end their disgusting support of hounding.
I just couldn’t resist showing a couple of pictures of my special little girl.