Thursday, November 03, 2016

Donald Trump’s Border Wall Would Have Wild Victims


If pronghorns, ocelots, and jaguars could vote, Hillary Clinton would get an additional boost in Arizona and Texas. That’s because, aside from questions of feasibility and political impacts, the Great Wall of Guadalupe Hidalgo that Donald Trump promises to build would have a devastating impact on these and other four-legged border jumpers.

Likewise the endangered subspecies of black bear that inhabits the borderlands along the Rio Grande. These bears, which have been nearly extirpated in Texas but hang on in the Mexican states of Coahuila and Chihuahua, are much rarer and shyer than their prolific northern cousins—hardly cut out for a world of helicopters, searchlights, and high-powered rifles.

The region’s next-largest carnivore, on the other hand, has shown a remarkable determination to keep coming north against all odds. Jaguars, the third-largest of the big cats, aren’t just jungle cats. They once ranged widely across the Southwest and Southeast. But what was thought to be the last wild jaguar in the United States—a female—was shot in 1963. Over the past two decades, however, one after another male tigre has been spotted or recorded by trap cameras wandering north in a vain search for mates.

Federal officials, picking their battles amidst vehement resistance from ranchers, have declined to import female jaguars or designate critical jaguar habitat. But biologists suspect that climate change is already driving not just jaguars but ocelots, coatis, javelinas, brown-nosed opossums and hog-nosed skunks northward. As warming continues, refuges north of the border will become increasingly important for many Mexican species—if fences and walls don’t hold them back.

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