The current administration of the United States government is focused on building a southern border wall to keep out illegal aliens. Whether a border wall will keep people out or not is questionable. The real problem of building a border wall is that it will hinder the migration of wildlife between the United States and Mexico. Much of this wildlife is endangered. A border wall could do more damage than good.
A Border Wall Will Harm People and Wildlife
The United States and Mexico border runs along the Rio Grande River but it also passes through treacherous deserts and canyons. Desert areas where wildlife thrives is deadly for humans. Most people who have tried to cross the border in these deserts have died. Building a border wall in these areas will do nothing but harm the wildlife.
WILDLIFE ALONG THE BORDER IS AT RISK
Six wildlife refuges, conservation areas, tribal lands, and six national parks line the United States and Mexico border. These areas connect and are there to protect species like the Sonoran pronghorn that migrate through that corridor. Recent construction of fences and vehicle barriers have already created problems for migrating species. A 20-foot concrete border wall, that has been proposed by the current administration, will cut off migrations and likely destroy species that are already endangered.
THE SANTA ANA NATIONAL WILDLIFE REFUGE IS VITAL TO MANY SPECIES
Right now, the focus is on the Santa Ana National Wildlife Refuge located in the Rio Grande Valley. Since this land is owned by the government the administration has decided to start building the wall here. Although this refuge is small it is very important. There are thousands of tropical birds here that are not found anywhere else in the United States. More than 400 species of birds call the Santa Ana National Wildlife Refuge home. It is also very important to note that Eco-tourism brings in millions of dollars of revenue to this area each year.
THE BORDER IS RICH WITH A DIVERSITY OF WILDLIFE
A study conducted in 2011 estimated that living within 30 miles of the border are 57 amphibian species, 134 mammal species, and 178 reptile species. Fifty of these species are threatened and the only reason they still exist is that people in both countries have worked hard to save them.
This same study found that bisecting the habitat with walls has detrimental effects on the wildlife. Existing walls on the border have cut off rare animals like the Ocelot and the jaguar. Building walls along the border lead to roads being built in pristine wilderness areas. Existing walls have also lead to flooding when the Rio Grande overflows. In 2008, a flood near the Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument in Arizona caused millions of dollars in damage and resulted in the death of two people.
THE MEXICAN GRAY WOLF IS IN GRAVE DANGER
Of all the animal species effected by border walls, the one that is the most endangered is the Mexican Gray Wolf. There were only 113 Mexican Gray Wolves in the wild in 2016. It is essential to keep this land open so the wolves won’t inbreed. Biologists say that Mexican Gray Wolves need to have at least three separate groups living in a large area to keep the gene pool healthy. A border wall could cut off these groups and cause the Mexican Gray Wolf to become extinct.
MANY OTHER SPECIES WILL BE AFFECTED BY A BORDER WALL
There are many animals in the Lower Rio Grande Valley National Wildlife Refuge that will be cut off if a border wall is placed in that area. Endangered animals like the Chachalaca, the Collared Peccary, the Nine-Banded Armadillo, the Texas Earless Lizard, the Jaguarundi, the Ocelot, the Mountain Lion, the Bobcat, and the Barred Tiger Salamander will be seriously affected by a border wall.
A BORDER WALL DOESN’T MAKE SENSE
A border wall may be popular with the base supporters of the United States President, but it will be nothing but detrimental to wildlife and the people living in towns along the Rio Grande River. Disregarding the negative effects of a border wall is irresponsible and cruel. Sadly, wildlife cannot speak up for itself and biologists are being ignored by the government. Let us hope that common sense will eventually prevail in the United States government and the billions they want to spend on a wall will be diverted to something more important like wildlife conservation.