Issues of concern to people who live in the west: property rights, water rights, endangered species, livestock grazing, energy production, wilderness and western agriculture. Plus a few items on western history, western literature and the sport of rodeo... Frank DuBois served as the NM Secretary of Agriculture from 1988 to 2003. DuBois is a former legislative assistant to a U.S. Senator, a Deputy Assistant Secretary of Interior, and is the founder of the DuBois Rodeo Scholarship.
Tuesday, December 13, 2011
Risk of violence keeps ranchers on alert
On the Chilton ranch near the U.S.-Mexico border, there's no debating what cowboys are supposed to do when they see smugglers - turn around and get outta there. Jim Chilton, his brother and the three cowboys who work for him avoid encounters with drug- or people-smugglers, even if it means falling behind on work on the 50,000-acre cattle ranch south of Arivaca in the Coronado National Forest. They work in tandem now, and they no longer carry cellphones. "The Border Patrol tells us that if we pull out a cellphone when we see someone, we're liable to get shot," Chilton said. A fifth-generation Arizona rancher, 72-year-old Chilton has owned his border ranch since 1987. Since the mid-1990s, his land - rugged, remote and near the border - has been a prime corridor for people- and drug-smugglers. The still-unsolved killing of Cochise County rancher Robert Krentz in March 2010 and the recent upsurge in violence in Mexico among groups that smuggle people and drugs through Arizona has forced ranchers to re-evaluate how they work. Though the Krentz killing is the only known murder of a Southern Arizona rancher, it shook most ranchers profoundly. "We realize that we are all vulnerable," Chilton said. The massive increase in Border Patrol agents over the last decade offers little solace to ranchers who work miles from where most agents patrol. It takes agents about three hours to drive from the Tucson station to a dirt road about five miles north of the border on the Chilton ranch, which is as far south as they usually go, Chilton said...more