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Will fencing our U.S. borders affect migrating 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

Posted on Tuesday, January 22nd, 2008
Under: border fences, Wildlife | 3 Comments »