A lot of political angst has ensued, ever since presidential candidate Donald Trump first uttered his infamous campaign promise to build a wall along America’s southwestern border. Folks on both sides of the aisle have differing opinions as to whether or not such an impediment would prevent humans from being able to cross over from Mexico to the United States, without going through the proper channels. This debate will most likely continue right up to Tuesday, November 8th, election day. However for those still on the fence (or wall), here is another factor that should be part of your decision-making: namely that humans are not the only ones affected by a wall — so are animals.
While there are a number of reasons why a US-Mexican wall is not feasible (crazy according to some), it would be a very expensive undertaking to execute. But beyond those factors, ecologists have presented yet another valid reason not to build. It is their belief that a wall would cut through the Southwest’s ecosystem in a very damaging way. It would deny species access to their existing habitats.
“The southwestern US and northwestern Mexico share their weather, rivers and wildlife,” Sergio Avila-Villegas, a conservation scientist from the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum in Tucson, told Nature. “The infrastructure on the border cuts through all that and divides a shared landscape in two.”
Continued Survival of Species
The entire Southwester border is home to a wide diversity of species, including some, which are endangered and need access to both nations (U.S. and Mexico) to survive. Movement for migration and hunting is important for the continued survival of many species and a large wall would create unnatural barriers that could prevent them to thrive.
A wall’s height of 50 feet or more and made out of precast concrete would create such a barrier. It could impact species like bighorn sheep—that travel in small groups and rely on cross-border connections to survive would be cut off from their neighbors. Others that would be harmed include both birds who fly low to the ground like pygmy owls, as well as those that don’t fly at all, such as roadrunners and their predators, the coyotes (for those who remember those iconic Looney Tune cartoons of the 1950s and 60s — beep, beep!)
Food & Water Deprivation
A border wall could also cut off access to food and water sources. Mother Nature Network spoke with conservation photographer Krista Schlyer in 2011 and found that it already has in some cases, such as when she and a scientist spotted a broken-down barbed-wire fence near the border.
“When we got to the ground, we visited the ranches on either side of the border to learn what we could about the bison’s movements and habits. The rancher on the Mexican side of the border said the bison visited a pond on his land almost every day because it was the only year-round water source anywhere nearby. The rancher on the American side said they came to a certain pasture on his land, where there was a special kind of native grass,” noted Schlyer.
So readers, what are your thoughts regarding how this wall might affect not only humans, but animal species as well? Might this be a significant factor for you to decide not to build a wall? And if not, why not? Please comment pro or con below.