Tony and the Cows
A True Story from the Range Wars
by Will Baker  
In 1995, Will Baker traveled to California’s Trinity River to write a magazine piece on the annual Earth First! Rendezvous. There he met activists, students, mystics, freaks, witches, troubadours, guerrilla poets, and visionaries—among them a passionate defender of the Southwest desert named Tony Merten, a former officer in the Rio Grande chapter of the Sierra Club. The two struck up a friendship and debated vigorously their views on matters environmental. One issue in particular roused them: the increasingly hot controversy over the century-old practice of allowing ranchers to graze livestock on public lands for a nominal fee.

Seven months later Tony Merten, who made his New Mexico ranch a habitat for wildlife, shot himself to death while under suspicion in the criminal investigation of the wanton shooting of thirty-four cows and calves. The tale of Tony and the cows leads us—inevitably, in Baker’s account—to a reassessment of the roots of contemporary eco-philosophy in all its manifestations: the Animal Rights movement, Deep Ecology, technophobia, and the fashionable tributaries of Native American and Eastern thought. Baker’s implication is obvious and urgent: we cannot preserve “Nature” until we understand, accept, and deal with human nature.

This book delivers a jolt of that truth, and it invites readers to begin a tough reassessment of our environmental crisis. owner-builders, contractors and architects alike.

Tony and the Cows
A True Story from the Range Wars
by Will Baker 
University of New Mexico Press, 2001.
Order a copy.

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