Dear Editor: I’m a lifelong Wisconsin resident, and for most of that lifetime, I was proud of it and happy to show it off to outsiders. Lately, however, I’m ashamed and appalled at what’s happening here.

In 1860, University of Wisconsin student John Muir learned a botany lesson that, as he said, “sent me flying to the woods and meadows in wild enthusiasm." He was a naturalist, author, and early advocate for the preservation of wilderness. Today Muir is referred to as the "Father of the National Parks."

Early last century, Forest Service employee Aldo Leopold was assigned to hunt and kill bears, wolves, and mountain lions in New Mexico, but he came to respect the animals. He developed an ecological ethic that replaced the earlier wilderness ethic stressing the need for human dominance. In 1924, he transferred to the U.S. Forest Products Laboratory in Madison. In 1949, he published "A Sand County Almanac," describing the land around his home in Sauk County, Wisconsin. He emphasized biodiversity and ecology, was a founder of the science of wildlife management, and was influential in the development of modern environmental ethics and in the movement for wilderness conservation.

Earth Day was founded by Sen. Gaylord Nelson as an environmental teach-in first held on April 22, 1970. Nelson was later awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom award in recognition of his work.

These were Wisconsin conservationists that I could be proud of.

Today, unfortunately, the state government takes its cues from people like lobbyist Bob Welch, a representative of the Wisconsin Bear Hunters Association and the National Rifle Association’s state chapter. These people promote the disgusting practice of “hounding” — releasing packs of killer hounds to run through the beautiful Wisconsin countryside, terrifying our wildlife. When they chase a bear up a tree, the "hunters" come and shoot the bear down. Wisconsin basically sanctions dog fighting. I can’t believe that the majority of the citizens of this great state approve of this.

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Gary Feest

Madison

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