Wiley the coyote: A Wisconsin hunter’s story of love and transformation « Wisconsin Wildlife Ethic-Vote Our Wildlife

“I cannot tell you how this coyote has turned me upside down.  Wiley is a member of our family.  I feel like I am fighting for the life of my relative!” ~ Rick Hanestad, Dunn County, Wisconsin

It is not often that a hunter calls me, asking for help.  In November, I found an urgent message on my answer machine.  I returned the call immediately.  Rick Hanestad, Nascar All American Series driver, life-long hunter/trapper and hound hunter, was calling me to help him save the life of a coyote.

Rick launched into his story.  His father and uncle farm over 1000 acres in western Dunn County.  In March, 2011, his uncle allowed a neighbor to hunt turkeys on his land.  The DNR promotes coyote killing 24/7 year-round, so that hunter killed a lactating female coyote.  Rick said, “Patricia, I don’t like that.  When I heard a female was shot in the spring, it made me sick to my stomach.”  He and his then 7 year-old daughter and 14 year-old son went looking for her pups.  Three days later they found five crying puppies, their eyes not yet open.  But he was “so scared of the DNR” that he just raked around the den to make sure it was the den of the coyote killed.  When he checked again, then the fifth day since the coyote had been shot, only one pup remained alive, dehydrated and weak.   Rick and his family spent the night dripping fluids down his throat.  They named him Wiley.

Asked what he thought would happen, Rick said, “I figured that at about 6 months he would be so vicious, I would either let him go, or shoot him.”  Did he ever show any aggression to their old male lab, their children, or their horses – to anyone?  “Never. He is such a sweet animal. I trust him absolutely with my 8 year-old daughter.  He is best friends with our dog.”

In November, 2012, a policeman was called out to neighboring land on a deer-stand dispute. Seeing the coyote outside in a pen, the policeman informed Rick’s wife that “the DNR will be out to pick up your coyote.”  (to kill him )

Rick dedicated himself, full-time, to save their family pet.  He called the local warden, the town supervisor, his legislators, and an outdoor radio host in Minnesota.  Hanestad wrote Representative Mursau’s aide,” In our state we have numerous coyotes, but without hunting dogs, who ever sees one?  I would love to take him to things like a biology class at schools or other situations where his extraordinary kindness around people could be shared.”

He continued, “I also found out about an individual that lives about an hour from our home in Ladysmith, WI.  This person (owns) a place that people take their hunting hounds to chase coyotes in an enclosed pen.  Talking with one person that uses the pen I was told that coyotes are chased and, on occasion, tore to pieces by hounds while people watch.  This guy does have a license legal by our state.  I can’t believe it! “   A neighbor’s son had seen a coyote killed by a pack of dogs in that enclosure, with people enjoying the “sport”.

Wisconsin coyotes have been taken legally from our state, for this legalized fenced torture, and required reports have not been made for 10 years.  There has been no DNR oversight.  Former DNR head of special investigations, Tom Solin, told me, a decade ago, that the DNR should not allow coyotes to be used in these enclosures because they cannot climb trees or hide from the dogs.  They get ripped apart on the ground.

Hanestad was looking for a way to get his coyote’s story to the public.  Someone at the DNR gave him my name.   He told me, “They might as well send 5 police officers, because they will not be taking our coyote, they will be taking me.”

All this required is a commonly DNR- issued captive wildlife license.  I made a few calls targeted to captive wildlife DNR personnel, asking if Hanestad has to promise to have this coyote ripped apart by dogs to get the appropriate license.  The next day, Rick called me, joyfully:  “The DNR will sell me Wiley for $24.00, and the cost of the state license, no fine, and I just have to build him a 144 square foot pen.  He would be standing in his own feces.  I am building him an acre.  He is ours!”

Rick says Wiley is the star of his hunting community.  People come to sit in the living room and hear him sing a thousand different songs. “Patricia, the different vocalizations amaze me on a nightly basis.  I’ve heard coyotes numerous times in the wild, but no one can possibly appreciate how beautiful they sound.  My family gets to hear different songs every night.”

Hanestad describes himself as having a deep lineage in hunting. His uncle taught him hunting and trapping from the age of five.  All his teen years he trapped, on average, setting 100 traps on a trap-line.  His average take was “130 coons, 40-50 red foxes, and 15-20 coyotes per season”.  He told me, “I always heard ‘the only good coyote is a dead coyote’.  The coyotes would be snarling in a foothold trap, and I would beat them to death with a stick.  I have killed hundreds of them.  I never thought about it.  I thought of it just like getting rid of weeds.”

And now?  “It makes me sick to my stomach when I think of what I did in the past.”

Does he think other coyotes are just like Wiley?  “Absolutely – they don’t do a thing to harm anybody.”  Why does he think they are so hated?  “Ignorance – it is just ignorance.”  Does it make him rethink all of his assumptions about animals?


Hanestad emailed me, “When the warden and the state wildlife biologist came to visit him, Wiley fell to his back and the biologist scratched his belly.  The biologist stated ‘oh my god; he’s just like a dog’.  That to me was worth its weight in gold because on the spot I changed his opinion of coyotes.”

I asked him how many hard core hunters he thought would be changed by meeting Wiley.  Hanestad replied “20% the first ten minutes – and 100% if they had experienced a week of what I have.  How could they not be changed?”  But he cautioned, “Some people choose to remain ignorant.”

Wiley Coyote, Trickster, power animal, has come to Wisconsin. Wisconsin citizens can no longer tolerate a legislature and DNR who choose ignorance.


The Natural Resources Board meets Feb. 26 in Madison to take comments on permanent rules to use packs of dogs to hunt wolves.  The deadline to register to comment is February 19 at Laurie.Ross@Wisconsin.gov.  Written comments can be made through February 22.


Patricia Randolph of Portage is a longtime activist for wildlife. madravenspeak@gmail.com or www.wiwildlifeethic.org
Here are more photographs of Wiley and his adopted family:

Wiley the coyote: A Wisconsin hunter’s story of love and transformation « Wisconsin Wildlife Ethic-Vote Our Wildlife.

Charles Talbert: Who defines ‘outdoor skills’? : Wsj

As reported in Thursday’s State Journal, the Wisconsin Conservation Congress — made up mostly of hunters and trappers — wants to turn the MacKenzie Environmental Education Center into a training facility for hunters and trappers.

This is understandable. Their shrinking numbers desire institutional legitimacy for their self-described “outdoor skills.” By recruiting school children, they want to counter the public’s growing realization that what in frontier days was a violent necessity is today just a cruel pastime.

Less clear is why the Department of Natural Resources promotes this distorted view of what constitutes “outdoor skills.” Most Wisconsinites, including the taxpayers who support the DNR, do not need to spill blood on wildlife lands to enjoy them.

Charles Talbert, Monona

Charles Talbert: Who defines ‘outdoor skills’? : Wsj.

Wildlife Protection Groups File Suit to Restore Federal Protection for Great Lakes Wolves : The Humane Society of the United States

WASHINGTON (Feb. 12, 2013) – A coalition of wildlife protection groups, including The Humane Society of the United States, Born Free USA, Help Our Wolves Live and Friends of Animals and Their Environment, filed suit against the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service over its decision to remove the protections of the Endangered Species Act from gray wolves living in the western Great Lakes region.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s most recent decision to delist wolves became effective last year, after multiple previous attempts to delist wolves were struck down by the courts over the course of the last decade. The decision threatens the fragile remnants of the gray wolf population by confining wolves to a small area in the Great Lakes region – where state wildlife managers have rushed forward with reckless killing programs that threaten wolves with the very same practices that pushed them to the brink of extinction in the first place.

“In the short time since federal protections have been removed, trophy hunters and trappers have killed hundreds of Great Lakes wolves under hostile state management programs that encourage dramatic reductions in wolf populations,” said Jonathan Lovvorn, senior vice president and chief counsel for animal protection litigation at The HSUS.  “This decision rolls back the only line of defense for wolf populations, and paves the way for the same state-sponsored eradication policies that pushed this species to the brink of extinction in the first place.”

“The Endangered Species Act is popularly considered one of the most powerful conservation laws on the books, but it is rendered impotent if species are not allowed to recover fully across the breadth of their range before delisting,” said Adam Roberts, executive vice president of Born Free USA. “Simply put, the gray wolf still requires protection under the Act.”

“Wolf populations are just at the threshold of rebounding in many areas across the Great Lakes Region,” said Linda Hatfield, executive director of Help Our Wolves Live. “The recent delisting has taken the wolf back to the old days, days before the ESA, the days of state-sponsored bounty payments to hunters and trappers that were intended to eliminate wolves from the landscape.”

Following federal delisting, Wisconsin and Minnesota rushed to enact emergency regulations to allow the first public hunting and trapping seasons in the Great Lakes region in more than 40 years. The states authorized some of the most abusive and unsporting practices, including hound hunting, snares, baiting, night hunting and the use of steel-jawed leg hold traps. Together, hunters and trappers killed more than 500 wolves in these two states in less than four months.  These losses are in addition to natural limiting factors and a wide range of other human-caused impacts, such as the killing of wolves by damage control agents, poachers, and, inadvertently, by automobile drivers.

The Michigan legislature recently amended state law to designate wolves as a game species, which would allow the state to authorize a trophy hunting and trapping season for wolves. There is a referendum campaign, launched by animal welfare and conservation groups and Native American tribes, in progress to place the measure on the ballot and nullify the action of the legislature.

The plaintiffs are represented in the case by Schiff Hardin, LLP and attorneys within The HSUS’ Animal Protection Litigation section. The complaint was filed in the federal district court for the District of Columbia.

Wildlife Protection Groups File Suit to Restore Federal Protection for Great Lakes Wolves : The Humane Society of the United States.

Proposal seeks to limit trapping on Dane County land

FROM ALLIANCE FOR ANIMALS: Alert to AFA members and supporters and concerned citizens in Dane County:

If you have the opportunity, please attend and show your support for
limiting publicly-owned property open to trapping.

While we oppose trapping everywhere, we believe this is a step in the
right direction and allows the county to set a precedent that could
be important if and when the state requirement is overturned.

Dane County Park Commission
Date and Time: Wednesday, January 23, 2013, 5:30 pm
Location: Lyman F. Anderson Agriculture & Conservation Center
5201 Fen Oak Drive – Conference A-B
Madison, WI 53718

Wisconsin State Journal article below:

Calling the practice cruel and inhumane, a Dane County supervisor Wednesday night will unveil a proposal to reduce the amount of county-owned land available for trapping.

Sup. Cynda Solberg, District 36, wants to limit trapping to county land bought with the help of state Stewardship funds that make hunting and trapping a requirement as part of the purchase agreement. The proposal, which will be introduced to the Parks Commission on Wednesday night, could remove up to 345 of the county’s 1,871 acres in wildlife areas that are currently open to trapping, according to the county’s most recent statistics.

“If I had my way I would like to see it banned completely,” said Solberg. “But realistically this is the best we can do.”

The plan would require County Board approval.

Solberg said she was the lone dissenter last year when the board approved accepting state Stewardship funds to help pay for a 25-acre addition to McCarthy Park near Cottage Grove. The use of Stewardship money — a state source many local governments tap to expand or buy new land for parks — made McCarthy the first recreational park in the county to allow trapping.

At about the same time, the state Legislature passed a bill that strengthened rules allowing trapping and hunting on public land purchased with Stewardship money.

Solberg said traps “torture” animals and also endanger young children and pets. Although reports of pets killed or children injured in traps over the past few years are rare, she called them accidents waiting to happen.

“The argument is that traps are not in (recreational) areas. But I ask those people, ‘Do you have children? They never stay where they are supposed to,'” Solberg said. “It’s not reasonable to say it will only trap what it’s intended for. It’s like playing with fire. Why wait for something to happen?”

Mark Peters, a district director for the Wisconsin Trappers Association, said the broad trapping rights granted by the state constitution may only be limited by reasonable restrictions.

“I understand that certain areas should not be open, but there are areas that are county-owned that are open right now that are not causing problems for anybody,” he said.

But Solberg said it’s difficult to thoroughly enforce the law requiring trappers to check their traps daily. She added that she has heard too many stories of animals stuck in traps for days waiting for the trappers to show up and kill them.

“We have no idea where these traps really are. It’s impossible to oversee something like that,” Solberg said. “All these rules are great, but I don’t buy it that they can be checked up on.”

Peters said trappers do a good job of policing themselves. “There are always a few people who violate the rules, but, by far, the vast majority of trappers are trying to do it the right way, ethically and staying within the regulations, sometimes way beyond the regulations, to avoid potential problems,” Peters said.

Peters said approved traps will not kill pets or injure children. He added trapping is used today in city and county parks to control wildlife populations that are damaging public lands and creating public health risks.

A differing opinion was offered by Rick Bogle, a spokesman for the animal rights group Alliance for Animals that Solberg said asked her to sponsor the amendment. “Wild populations just aren’t running amok,” said Bogle.

Bogle called Solberg’s amendment a step in the right direction. “A very few of us want to go out and set traps, leave them there for a period of time until they come back and kill the animals trapped in them and make money selling their pelts,” he said. “That tiny fraction has completely been allowed to trump the concerns of a much larger, majority opinion. I don’t think it’s at all fair that the state forces communities to do this. We think the mandate is biased and undemocratic.”

Proposal seeks to limit trapping on Dane County land : Wsj.

Protestors honor wolves killed during Wisconsin hunt – WKOW 27: Madison, WI

MADISON (WKOW) — The highly debated wolf hunt has come and gone, but the controversy is far from over.

Friday night several demonstrators gathered outside the state’s Department of Natural Resources building to pay tribute to the 117 wolves killed this season.

Many have been protesting this hunt since it first came up last January. Since then the issue has been discussed in several court proceedings clarifying issues from using dogs to hunting at night. However, the message for a few dozen demonstrators is simple: they simply want it to end.

“We want to honor the wolves that lost their lives to this unnecessary hunt,” one demonstrator says.

The hunt that was the first of its kind. After years of being on the nation’s endangered species list, wolves are no longer the top predator in Wisconsin.

“The wolf is an iconic, beautiful animal very much like us. It is appalling that we are allowing this to happen in our state,” says demonstrator Patricia Randolph.

The group honored the 117 wolves with poems and songs, even lighting candles for each individual wolf, then blowing them out to symbolize their last dying breath.

Down the block a lone demonstrator on the other side of the issue speaks out against wolves that threaten her way of life.

“The wolves in our area, they have been coming onto our lawns,” Shelly Seiler explains. “There was a neighbor dog that was attacked and killed by one.”

Seiler says over the past two years she’s seen the population near her Columbia County home double in size. Without the hunt she’s afraid the population will be out of control.

“We are dairy farmers so there is a small concern about that.”

Demonstrators argue that’s not the hunting they’re concerned about. It’s the trophy hunting that they believe is unnecessary.

“They were on the endangered species list due to hunting, then we bring them back from the brink of being endangered to hunt them. It just doesn’t make a lot of sense to me,” says demonstrator Melissa Smith

The Department of Natural Resources has said during this entire debate that an organized wolf hunt will not threaten the local population. Friday’s demonstrators not only question that statement, but argue the DNR’s decision to approve a hunt was motivated by money and not what’s best for the species.

Protestors honor wolves killed during Wisconsin hunt – WKOW 27: Madison, WI Breaking News, Weather and Sports.

A Candlelight Wolf Memorial

A candlelight memorial is planned to honor the 117 wolves killed in this year’s Wisconsin wolf hunt. The memorial will take place in front of the State Natural Resources Building.

Volunteers are needed to help set up candles. If you can help please come between 4:00 – 4:15.

The memorial will include candles, the ringing of bells, and a poem for the wolves.

I know that I am not alone in wanting to honor the 117 wolves who were killed in the Wisconsin hunt this year. It is our intention to symbolize the wolves’ lives and deaths at this memorial.

Alliance for Animals and Wisconsin Wildlife Ethic also support this event.

A Candlelight Wolf Memorial.

Patricia Randolph’s Madravenspeak: DNR creates culture of violence, slaughtering innocents

“With the wolf hunt season winding down, I think Ted Nugent said it best: ‘It’s a free-for-all, baby’… all I gotta say is wack n stack.” — from the Wisconsin Wolf Hunting facebook page

It was just a few days before the school massacre at Newtown, Conn. At the Natural Resources Board meeting on Dec. 11, 66 people had assembled from all over Wisconsin, most to speak against Act 168, imposing hunting and trapping on state and county parks.

Christine Thomas, the board member who earned her seat by starting the organization Become an Outdoor Woman (BOW), showed up in a full length fur coat, knowing most people had come to protest trapping in our parks. The first order of business was a celebration of the “successful” deer kill. Thomas raised her arms in a victorious hoot to the revelation that 33 percent of 29,000 first-time deer hunters were women. Another holler celebrated the 10 percent increase in 10- and 11-year-olds buying the new $5 cheapie “kill your first deer” license.

Visitors complained afterward that the board, in its special-interest delirium, is obviously out of touch with the general public.

Several state representatives spoke. Rep. Jeffrey Mursau, author of the amendment to take over state and county parks for trapping and hunting, put the audience in its place: “Hunting, trapping and fishing are constitutional rights. Peace and quiet are not constitutional rights.” Rep. Brett Hulsey, who voted for the bill, said that he had been hearing from his constituents. “It is too broad. We may have gone too far, and may have to fix it.”

Friends of State Parks have raised millions of dollars and volunteered thousands of hours for our parks. Alienated, they may disband.

Board member Jane Wiley revealed that 7.5 million acres of public land, over 99 percent of the total, are open to the 10 percent who hunt. About 60,000 acres, less than 1 percent, were previously set aside as for the 90 percent of the public enjoying safe quiet sports and wildlife viewing.

As one speaker said, “That is a lot of sharing.”

After four hours of testimony, board member William Bruins proposed that the board tell the Legislature that having already reviewed the parks for hunting and safety issues, and given public sentiment, they would vote to keep the parks at the previous level of hunting, without trapping. The Legislature had been hearing from an awakening irate general public. Department of Natural Resources Secretary Cathy Stepp intervened, saying that this would violate the intention of the Legislature. (So much for the people.)

Chairman David Clausen, a farm veterinarian and an avid hunter, cast the deciding vote against leaving the parks at 2012 hunting levels. He also nixed an amendment to flag traps so that the public could avoid them, saying that the 8,000 trappers “would be upset and might have traps or dead animals stolen.” No mention of wildlife and safety stolen from millions of park supporters. So it was proposed, and unanimously passed, that all parks be newly opened to trapping and hunting Nov. 15-Dec. 15 and for all of April.

Who do they kill in April, when wildlife have babies? Turkeys are killed April 10-May 21. Otters and beavers can be trapped for six months Nov. 3-April 30. Coyotes, possums, skunks, weasels, and snowshoe hares can be killed year-round, with no reporting and no limit, leaving babies to die.

Michael Moore, filmmaker of “Bowling for Columbine,” speaking the morning of the Newtown school killing, said that even if we banned assault weapons, required background checks for all gun sales, and provided free mental health care, “We would still be the sick and twisted, violent people we have been for hundreds of years.” I would add we teach kids of any age to trap, and 10-year-olds to handle guns and kill innocent animals for sport. How can adults live in denial that teaching senseless state-sponsored violence to children can have any good result?

National Rifle Association members should be shunned like dealers in tobacco, alcohol, domestic abuse and child trafficking. They peddle death. Gun violence kills 9,000 people a year in this country. Nine children are killed every day. Compare that to 150 gun deaths a year in Canada or Germany.

In 1996, 35 people were killed in an Australian massacre. That country of macho gun lovers banned semi-automatic weapons and it bought back 650,000 guns. They have not had a mass shooting since. If there is no buyback and millions of semi-automatics are left in circulation, we can expect more massacres. But we have massacres daily in Wisconsin – loving, innocent animals just like our pets bludgeoned, tortured and killed en masse.

This is a death culture. As President Obama said, “We don’t have to tolerate this. …We have to change.”

Please sign the petition to keep Wisconsin parks safe.

Patricia Randolph of Portage is a longtime activist for wildlife. madravenspeak@gmail.com or www.wiwildlifeethic.org


Patricia Randolph’s Madravenspeak: DNR creates culture of violence, slaughtering innocents.

12 Animal Activism Stories That Made Headlines in 2012 « Striking at the Roots

Rescues, bans, and protests—any way you look at it, 2012 was an eventful year for animal activism. As I began reflecting on the last 12 months, I was heartened by just how vocal people were, and how their speaking out for animals helped to create positive changes. Our voices didn’t always result in an all-out victory, but even when they didn’t, we can still claim some success. Rather than rank these stories, I’ve put them in chronological order. Here are 12 for ’12:

12 Animal Activism Stories That Made Headlines in 2012 « Striking at the Roots.

NRA Insults Everyone Who Cares About the Safety of Our State Parks « Wisconsin Wildlife Ethic-Vote Our Wildlife

The National Redneck Rifle Association is at it again with their insulting and extremist kill everything agenda. Today they put out a release whining that the Natural Resources Board, who for once listened to the citizens of Wisconsin, and sharply limited the plan to turn all state parks into massive killing grounds. While the plan still allows the trapping sadists to still practice their torture in the parks, they only get one month rather than the seven that the extremists in the DNR proposed. But of course the DNR and NRA are appalled that non-hunting users won’t have to dodge bullets and traps from October to May.

“I don’t feel it will meet the expectations of the Legislature,” said DNR secretary Cathy Stepp.

Well guess what? The Legislature works FOR the citizens, but apparently the Walker regime seems to forget that. Back to the release from the National Redneck Rifle Association. Did you know that anyone who cares about their safety in a state park is a “radical activist?” And they promise that this fight is not over. From their release:

As a result of this egregious action taken by the NRB, hunter access to additional state parks in the fall will be limited to one month (from November 15 – December 15) and from April through the third week of the spring turkey season.  This is a fraction of the increased opportunity intended by the state legislature. The NRB used the baseless claim of protecting public safety to restrict hunter and sportsmen access and opportunity on taxpayer-owned land. The NRA and its members throughout Wisconsin are extremely disappointed in the actions taken by the Natural Resources Board.

This fight is far from over! 

Your NRA-ILA will continue to keep you updated about developments related to this issue and upcoming plans to rectify this injustice affecting Wisconsin’s hunting community.

Injustice? Really? Baseless claims? So the vast majority of Wisconsin citizens who do not hunt or trap are expected to dodge bullets and traps for SEVEN months to appease the NRA? So they are all “radical activists?” What is the real injustice here? Keep it up NRA. And they wonder why you get blamed every time there is a mass shooting with extremist attitudes like this?  – Read the full article here.

NRA Insults Everyone Who Cares About the Safety of Our State Parks « Wisconsin Wildlife Ethic-Vote Our Wildlife.