The terrible impacts Trump’s wall would have on communities straddling the border, not to mention people seeking a better life, cannot be overstated. But here’s something you might not know – it would also be a disaster for wildlife.
Just this week, Trump asked for $1.6 billion to build his wall on the nearly 1,300 miles of border that don’t already have barriers.
Construction at this scale would be an unmitigated disaster for ocelots, Mexican gray wolves and other endangered and threatened species living along the border, one of the most biologically diverse areas in North America, if not the world.
In fact, a new study by the Center for Biological Diversity, where I’m the endangered species director, found Trump’s wall would imperil 93 species that are either already protected as threatened or endangered under the Endangered Species Act or under consideration for such protection.
Making matters worse, our study discovered that 25 threatened or endangered species have designated critical habitat on the border, including more than 2 million acres within 50 miles of the proposed wall. Animals will not survive if their habitat is destroyed by this wall.
Construction of Trump’s destructive wall – along with related infrastructure and enforcement – will have far-reaching consequences for these 93 endangered species. The wall will cut off their migration corridors, reduce genetic diversity, destroy habitat and add vehicles, noise and lights to vast stretches of the wild borderlands.
The bottom line: If the wall is built, it could drive incredible animals like the jaguar or cactus ferruginous pygmy owl to extinction in the United States.
The border wall will do many things – but it will not be effective at stopping people seeking a better life from getting to this country, rendering it useless for the purposes Trump says it will serve.
Put simply, building a wall across the entirety of the border is a boondoggle that will do massive damage to an area of great biological and cultural diversity.
The border wall would cut through the Cabeza Prieta, Buenos Aires and several other national wildlife refuges, along with Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument, Big Bend National Park and many other natural areas that, besides acting as corridors for wildlife, are national treasures.
Given the travesty of Trump’s proposed wall, the Center for Biological Diversity and Congressman Raúl M. Grijalva (D-Ariz.), the ranking member of the House Committee on Natural Resources, sued the Trump administration last month over the border wall and other border security measures, calling on federal agencies to conduct an in-depth investigation of the proposal’s environmental impacts.
The suit, filed in the U.S. District Court for the District of Arizona, is the first targeting the Trump administration’s plan to vastly expand and militarize the U.S.-Mexico border, including construction of a “great wall.”
Land use and development in the borderlands have already pushed so many species to the brink. It’s long past time to give them room to recover – it’s time to stop Trump’s wall once and for all.
Photo: Male jaguar photographed by automatic wildlife cameras in the Santa Rita Mountains of southeastern Arizona on June 17, 2013, as part of a U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service/Department of Homeland Security-funded jaguar survey conducted by University of Arizona.