Bison portrait

Will President Trump’s Plans for a Border Wall Affect Endangered Species?

Since his presidential campaign, Donald Trump threatened to build a concrete wall along the border to prevent illegal immigration. However, the wall might also have a significant impact on the environment; it even threatens thousand of plants and animals in the US and Mexico.

Some environmentalists argue that it seems to be impossible to measure the damages or negative consequences the wall might have on the environment. This region, called the Sky Islands, contains more than 7,000 species, most of which would struggle to cross the wall.

The Border Region

The wall is thought to cover some areas where New Mexico and Arizona meet Mexico; it would involve a vast protected landscapes in North America. The region has deserts and mountains with subtropical climates and temperate, and it includes the Sky Island.

The region is surrounded by mountains and vegetation. What is more, there are mammals like bears, lions, and sheep as well as birds. A lot of them live here as it is a vast region, a proper habitat even though the water might be a limiting factor and quite unpredictable for the species.

Thus, it is important for the animals to be able to find food and water freely. This freedom have been restricted by the US- Mexican fences approved in 2006. Many sectors were surrounded by these fences making it difficult for animals to move around the place freely.

Barriers Modify the Wildlife

It seems impossible to be sure about how wildlife is really affected or modified by the barriers. This is because some aspects should be considered like how animals move around the territory, the quality of it, and if they are able to penetrate the barriers or not.

The variables are many, and it would take extensive studies to determine the actual harmful effect barriers have on nature. For sure, it can be said that they affect in a lousy way wildlife, but it is not clear up to what extent these consequences go.

Some analysts argued that “Connectivity is really essential, and we know that species that have certain traits are going to be negatively affected,” what is more, there might be some breaks in the fencing which might be used by these animals to jump or slip.

In 2009, a study revealed that a considerable amount of gene flow between desert in the U.S and Mexico which suggested that an impenetrable border barrier was transposed modifying the environment. Expert speculated on the idea that there may not be serious consequences, but if the population is small, it might bring about considerable changes in the development of the species. 

Regarding birds, the pygmy owls rarely take flights to clear border fences and avoid gaps in vegetation, however, their connectivity should be maintained to keep them living in the U.S area where they are more jeopardized.

In the case of jaguars, it seems that the Fish and Wildlife Service is applying a recovery plan focused on conservation efforts on their population which is believed to be less than 300 animals. They are almost extinct in the country, and the fence would make it impossible to recover the species.

Protect the Corridors to Protect Species

Natural corridors should be kept open and passable in order to protect wildlife. There exists some refugees like the one in southeastern Arizona called San Bernardino, which support a high number of endangered fish. So the river corridor does not need to be fenced and, at the same time, to reduce traffic in the refuge to let the fish be free.

Something similar happens in the mountain range like the Baboquivari and Patagonia, where there is no fence yet but some strings of wire or vehicle barriers that makes wildlife permeable. This is a habitat for numerous species because it has 49 mountainous miles for animals to run free.

As climate is changing, it would be vital to protect these places in the near future. Temperatures have already become hotter and seasons are shorter, even winter is drier. Southern New Mexico lands might present an opportunity to apply some kind of solution, thinking in long terms, to the conditions in which species should adopt.

Experts affirmed that the US has “a lot of capacity on our U.S. public lands to implement adaptation strategies,” that might include restoring streams and seeps, as well as harvesting rainwater. Likewise, connectivity is a must if the protection and conservation plan is going to be held.

A ‘No’ to the Wall

Most scientist and conservationist protest against the construction of the wall, they claim that it would be devastating for hundreds of species and it will lead to the extinction of several species in the U.S, like the jaguar.

They argue that this impenetrable division might not only destroy or damage the natural habitat of these animals both side of the wall but also it might cause a massive disruption. Besides, the wall might prevent genetic diversity which is necessary for animals sustainability so it might lead to a loss of natural resources.

Extremists believe that the division would be catastrophic for the environment, and a decision should be taken right now, there is no time to waste on debating the matter. Borders need to be controlled and protected so animals wildlife would not be affected in a negative form. They are even suspicious about Trump’s administration which might be building “ the perfect extension process.”

The construction of the new wall seems to be impossible to prevent. For some people, it might portray or represent some control over illegal immigration. But, in the environmental world in the US and Mexico borderlands, it might symbolize long-term negative consequences for an enormous amount of endangered species.