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Will fencing our U.S. borders affect migrating wildlife?

By Gary Bogue
Tuesday, January 22nd, 2008 at 7:41 am in border fences, Wildlife.

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Hi Gary:
I was wondering what your thoughts (and the thoughts of bloggers on your site) were about the fencing of our borders?

It seems that a continuous fence along the border will keep migrating terrestrial animals from moving between the two countries. The smaller jaguar population on the Mexican side of the fence will certainly suffer genetically as the larger gene pool from the North is cut off.
Bill Feil, Ph.D. in cyberspace

Hi Bill:
My thoughts are that any fence we build along the Mexican (or Canadian) border to keep humans out will have just as big an impact, or even bigger, on the wildlife that normally migrates back and forth across the same area(s).

And it just won’t be the large rare animals, like jaguars, that will be impacted by these stupid walls. The lives of the tiniest lizards and rodents will be also have their smaller ranges altered. Even songbirds that fly close to the ground — or game birds like quail and pheasants, or roadrunners that spend most of the time running around on the ground — will have their natural ranges modified.

The potential problems lurking behind the construction of border fences seems to be further complicated by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS). They have been accused by some of staying away from developing recovery plans for wild creatures that may be affected by these fences. Some cynics say this is because the FWS doesn’t want to get in the way of the Department of Homeland Security’s fence building.

This is from a Jan. 18 Associated Press story by H. Josef Hebert:
If the U.S. border region were designated as a critical recovery area for the jaguar, then it would constrain the Homeland Security Department in building the fence, said Kieran Suckling, policy director of the Center for Biological Diversity. “That’s the central issue here,” Suckling said.

What do you think?

You can read more about this at:
http://sciencenow.sciencemag.org/cgi/content/full/2008/117/2?etoc

http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2008/01/080118-AP-jaguars.html

/Gary

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3 Responses to “Will fencing our U.S. borders affect migrating wildlife?”

  1. Maggie Says:

    I think the border fence is one of the worst things we’ll ever do to wildlife, not to mention people. I was recently in SE Arizona in an area known as the most biodiverse in the US. It is very close to the Mexican border and much of the time I was there I was thinking about this fence and what a horrible mistake it is. I beleive that even if an animal gets designated as endangered that Bush has exempted the fence project from any environmental over-sight, as he has done for the sonar off the California coast. I believe it will take at least more than 100 years to undue the environmental damge this administration has created. The fence will be a lasting legacy to their ignorance, heartlessness, and disconnection from the natural world.

  2. bhf Says:

    Besides the fence, we have many other barriers to animal movement. Our group looks at urban development and the problems with diminishing habitat for urban wildlife. At some point, we need to understand the value that wildlife has for our society. If we were to invest in futures on wildlife, we would hit the jackpot. Land values around any sanctuary would skyrocket. Buildings that include some habitat, even a small amount for birds and butterflies, would have better tenant occupancy. http://www.land4urbanwidlife.org.

  3. PVB Says:

    I agree that the proposed fence on our southern border will adversely effects many species of wildlife, be they charismatic megafauna such as the endangered Jaguar or the less visible but also important components of the ecosystem – reptiles, mammals, birds and insects. As noted in the previous postings, the Fish and Wildlife Service is neglecting the Jaguar’s plight in deference to the Department of Homeland Security. At the same time there is a crisis facing another top predator on our northern border, namely the Polar Bear in Alaska. If global warming causes the summer ice to disappear in the Arctic, as is now feared, the Polar Bear will no longer be able to hunt seals on that ice and will become extinct, since the seals that live on the ice are the Polar Bear’s sole source of food and they, too will have no place to go. The Environemental Protection Agency is considering the listing of the Polar Bear as endangered. Polar Bear hunting is still allowed (see http://www.epa.gov/fedrgstr/EPA-SPECIES/2007/June/Day-15/e11620.htm). Meanwhile oil and gas leases are about to be sold to petroleum companies, allowing them to drill in the Artic Ocean directly under Polar Bear habitat. The Bush administration is stalling the declaration of endangerment so as not to jeopardize the leasing. Ironically the oil pumped from those wells would be burned in our automobiles to produce more oil to contribute to more global warming and melt more ice. Our economy attracts human immigrants from the south and therefore we build a border fence that harms the Jaguar. Our economy demands oil and therefore we drill in the northern border and harm the Polar Bear.

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