Friday, April 21, 2017

Trump’s Wall Will Divide More Than Just Two Countries

            The now infamous wall that is in plans to be built on the southern border of the United States to stop illegal immigration from Mexico and other countries may hurt this country in the long run. The wall in theory will be built to ward off unwanted immigration, but the wall will disrupt the ecosystem of the plants and animals that thrive in that current area. A U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service analysis suggests that President Trump’s wall could affect more than 100 threatened or endangered species (1).
            A large wall that takes the place of a small crossable fence, or even an open space will alter the range of animals. One 2011 study found that some native species in California have already lost up to 75 percent of their range to border fences (1). This impeded range will have devastating effects on the animals. The wall will virtually split the range of the animal, and depending on when the wall is being built some of the animals will either be on one side or the other. Jaguars, desert bighorn sheep and roadrunner could see their habitat split in two and their genetic diversity threatened if the wall is built (2). Speaking of the jaguar, there was recently one spotted in the United States after being on hiatus for a long span of time. If the wall were to be built, a wild jaguar may never be seen on U.S. soil ever again.
            Creating man-made barriers such as the border wall leads to small, isolated populations and with time, the impacted species become weak, inbred, and vulnerable to disease (3). With the range of animals being significantly altered, the animals will not have to ability to travel far distances just to find mates. This will ultimately lead to inbreeding within their own pack or groups of animals in which they travel. The results could be detrimental to the given species depending on healthy they were in the first place. A prime example would be the Florida panther. Today, they roam in a small fraction of their historic range and are cut off from accessing other panther populations — which ultimately lead to inbreeding and disease, as nature requires genetic diversity in order to ensure healthy populations (3). If the wall were to be constructed then some animals that people have come to know and love could end up in an isolated location just like the Florida panther.

Photo: A portion of the wall that is constructed in southern California.
            Yeah, but there is already a fence on the border. Why are people not talking about this structure that is already erected? The fence that was constructed in the past was not at the magnitude that is in plans for the future. The future plans for a large wall alongside the entire border of the southern United States, and is supposed to be impenetrable for humans to cross. If humans are not supposed to pass over this new wall, then what makes one think that animals will? Some sections of wall are 18 feet high and solid steel, so no terrestrial animals (except humans) can pass (5). Even when the fencing that was put up in the past animals were still in shock on what was happening. There are stories of animals stopping in their tracks, staring at barriers they couldn’t cross (4). This same type of story will be told a numerous amount of times in the future if the wall will be actually constructed. Even with animals in dismay over that new barrier in their way, they still found ways to cross over the border. An example would be when a herd of bison was documented as traveling back and forth to the United States from Mexico, at the time was a broken-down barbed-wire fence (broken by the bison themselves) (5). The wall for the future is supposed to be built bigger and stronger than that of a barbed-wired fence.
            With all that being said, the United States government needs to consider that pros and cons of what is actually happening when there is a giant wall covering the full border between two countries. This presents a huge ecological problem (walls being built) that if it continues will likely cause extinctions for some species that are endemic to the region or already imperiled, and localized extinctions for others, which will throw ecosystem dynamics out of balance all along the border (5). Is the extinction of some precious animals enough to modify the future plans? The biodiversity of this particular area will be hit very hard, so, cherish these animals living on the border while we still can because there is a chance in our future that we may never see them again.

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