In southwest New Mexico, it's a struggle to be green. In 1991, wolf advocate Pamela Brown tried to show her video, Wolf Teacher, at schools in Silver City and neighboring towns. It mixes cuddly scenes of wolves licking kids' faces and prancing down beaches with stories of how ranchers tried to exterminate them.
But this is a place where ranchers,
environmentalists and the federal government have fought over
whether to reintroduce the wolf in the Blue Primitive Area
straddling the New Mexico-Arizona border to the
In the small ranching town of Glenwood,
three ranchers' wives stopped Brown at the schoolhouse door, she
recalled. The women today deny that they physically barred Brown,
50, but after some haggling, the video was never
Rancher Bob McKeen, whose daughter-in-law
taught at the school, said the video failed to show the wolf's
killer side. Mary Beth Britton, the teacher who had brought Brown
in, later wrote her that "we heard money talking
"These same women actively promote the
beef industry in our school district. Campaigning for their
survival seems to be acceptable, while doing the same thing for the
wolf is not," she wrote.
Newspaper editor Kate
Keely felt the ranchers' sting, too. From 1988 to 1992, she put out
a bi-weekly newspaper, Wilderness Outlook, that mixed
environmentalism with community news, tales of camping out and
personal histories. While it was hardly a call to arms,
rancher-county commissioner Hugh McKeen hinted that an advertising
boycott would be appropriate. Sometimes, 100 copies of the paper
would disappear from a news rack, racks were torn up, and a big
grocery chain stopped carrying it.
nothing against any of these people," says Keely. "I was trying to
be a forum for both sides. They figured out I was the enemy because
I am an environmentalist." Keely is now a second-grade
In spring 1993, Beverly Malo, a clerk at
a local petroleum distributor, lost her job to rancher pressure
after she wrote a letter on company stationery to protest some
anti-environmentalist ads on the radio.
of those ads more clearly pointed at Susan Schock and her group
Gila Watch, since they exhorted listeners not to tolerate
"third-party interference" on the Diamond
The radio ads likened environmentalists to
"pagan nature worshippers' and animal rights activists to Nazis.
One traced the roots of modern environmentalism to Eastern
mysticism. Another ad blasted environmentalists for stepping in and
objecting to the "marriage" on the Diamond Bar between the Forest
Service and ranchers. The sponsors were a livestock-mining interest
coalition called Minuteman Media.
"Many of these
environmental leaders aren't just demanding better conservation
practices, they are seeking a total transformation of society," an
ad said. "One that seeks to destroy or totally restructure our
current economic system and replace it with mystic hope, or in some
cases, no hope at all."
Outraged, listener Malo
faxed a letter to radio station KSCQ, saying, "The music has turned
sour with the garbage of Minuteman Press." When word got back to
her boss, she was fired.
KSCQ owner John Alsip,
whose family is in ranching, strongly defended the ads, calling
environmentalists "eco-Nazis." "I hate their damned guts," he
"They don't care about riparian habitats,"
Alsip said, "they don't care about how many spotted owls they save.
All they care about is getting the cows off public land."