U.S.-Mexico border fence may harm endangered wildlife

According to Defenders of Wildlife, a fence along the U.S.-Mexico border would be devastating for jaguars and other endangered species.  Jaguars require an extensive range and the ability to travel through remote areas between the U.S. and mexico.  This would be made nearly impossible by new border wall construction.

Barriers have already been built across 600 miles of the border, at  a cost of $2.4 billion.  The House version of the Homeland Security appropriations bill actually includes $40 million to offset the damage caused by those roads and walls.  Amendment #1399 in the Senate version of the Homeland Security appropriations bill mandates 300 miles of additional walls, which could cost another billion dollars and disrupt more wildlife habitat.

Defenders of Wildlife offers several other reasons for opposing the border wall:

  • New walls, rushed to completion without careful study or design, alter natural water flows and worsen flooding, causing millions of dollars in property damage on both sides of the border.
  • New roads and disturbed areas now provide avenues for invasive species to spread.
  • These roads also give vehicles access to previously inaccessible places, resulting in increased illegal traffic, erosion and disturbance.
  • To the dismay of local American Indian tribes and the public at large, many historic and cultural sites have been irreparably damaged.

Whether or not additional border walls would decrease illegal immigration is outside the scope of this blog.  But to disturb vital habitat is an ecological mistake, especially if the disturbance is unnecessary.  What would future generations think if we destroyed jaguar habitat to build a fence?

Here’s an easier question:  What would the jaguars think?

If you sympathize with the wildlife on this issue, you might consider sending this letter to your elected officials.  The body of the letter also includes more information about the border wall.

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