Endangered Species Threatened by US-Mexico Border Wall

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MongaBay.com: The new Trump administration in the U.S. brings with it a wave of policy and agenda shifts that are set to negatively impact the state of the environment on a national and global scale. Among them are a push for increased oil drilling, climate change denialism driving energy and environment priorities, and an anti-regulatory fervor that could lead to higher CO2 emissions and pollution from the manufacturing and coal industries.

In late January, the new administration also announced that it will be moving forward with plans to build ‘the wall’ along the southern border with Mexico. The wall not only presents human, fiscal, and international relations concerns, but would also have an adverse impact on wildlife and the environment.

Nature does not adhere to the human concept of borders: species are meant to cross landscapes and biomes to find food and mates. The US-Mexico region is a rich ecosystem, home to a diverse array of mammals, birds, and plants. The Rio Grande Valley, in fact, is one of the most biodiverse places in North America. According to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, an impregnable wall running across the entire 2,000-mile border between the two countries would “potentially impact” more than 111 endangered species, 108 migratory bird species, four wildlife refuges and fish hatcheries, and an unknown number of protected wetlands.

There are already a series of walls and fences extending from California to Texas on the border between the U.S. and Mexico, and they are already having a detrimental impact on wildlife, including the iconic roadrunner of the southwest and big-horn sheep. Scientists have found that bobcats will walk great distances just to cross to the other side of their habitat. As US Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) biologist Hilary Swarts told Newsweek last year: “Working on the assumption that animals travel as much as they need to but not more, this suggests something is compelling them to use both sides, even if it means walking an extra kilometer to go around this barrier.” Closing whatever corridors are left will undoubtedly hinder species survival.

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