Tags: Donald Trump | Mexico | Trump Administration | border wall | animals | wildlife | migration

Expert: Border Wall May Be Death Sentence for Endangered Species

Image: Expert: Border Wall May Be Death Sentence for Endangered Species
This Dec. 1, 2016 still image from video provided by Fort Huachuca shows a wild jaguar in southern Arizona. (AP Photo/Fort Huachuca)

By    |   Thursday, 03 Aug 2017 02:39 PM

President Donald Trump's plan build a border wall between the United States and Mexico might doom dozens of endangered species, including jaguars, ocelots, pronghorn antelopes, and Mexican gray wolves, a scientist at Rice University has warned.

"Evolutionary effects from the wall can change the balance of nature along the U.S.-Mexico border, putting wildlife in the area, including more than 100 endangered species, at risk," said Scott Egan, an assistant professor of ecology and evolutionary biology at the Houston, Texas school.

"There are many animals that naturally migrate across the border each year, such as the black bears in West Texas, or the pronghorn antelope across the Southwest. Interrupting these natural movements could have devastating effects on these species on both sides of the border.

"Similarly, the border wall will trap populations that continue to move north in response to a warming and changing planet, potentially killing individual animals and populations or resulting in the future extinction of entire species unable to find habitats south of the border to survive."

Last week, the House approved a spending bill that includes $1.6 billion to fund the start of the "contiguous and impassable wall" along the Mexican border.

And this week, the Department of Homeland Security issued a news release announcing "a waiver to waive certain laws, regulations, and other legal requirements to ensure the expeditious construction of barriers and roads in the vicinity of the international border near San Diego."

Egan said there are two important phenomena that occur with any type of barrier that interrupts animal or plant life.

First, it causes a population bottleneck, a sharp reduction in the size of a population by effectively cutting a species into two parts. This reduces the number of breeding animals and amount of genetic variation, which hobbles their ability to survive changes to the environment, like climate change.

Second, a barrier to the natural exchange of genes in a population can increase inbreeding, leading to a decreased fitness of the population.

The building of a border wall was one of Trump's biggest – and most controversial – campaign platforms last year.

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President Donald Trump's plan build a border wall between the United States and Mexico might doom dozens of endangered species, including jaguars, ocelots, pronghorn antelopes, and Mexican gray wolves, a scientist at Rice University has warned.
border wall, animals, wildlife, migration, endangered
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2017-39-03
Thursday, 03 Aug 2017 02:39 PM
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