As the government shutdown drags on and visitors to unpatrolled national parks deface the landscape with off-road vehicles and leave their shit – literal and metaphoric – behind, and unpaid TSA workers call in sick to major airports, and senior White House appointees – Mike Pence included – are a bout to receive $10,000 pay increases, let’s give some attention to the animals about to be affected by the border wall
Mexico is paying for.
Because of the purported urgency of the U.S.-Mexico barrier, environmental laws have been waived. The portion of the wall built so far has already had consequences, including some animal species separated from their food and water sources, others cut off from millennia-old migration routes, and habitats destroyed. One example is a herd of wild bison that regularly – without passports – crosses the border. On the U.S. side is a patch of native grass the animals feed on. On the Mexico side is the only year-round water source in the area.
Wild animals have not accepted that climate change is a hoax promoted by liberals and scientists. Rising temperatures and worsening drought exacerbate the difficulty of finding food and water. Splitting up species, as the wall will do, lessens an animal’s chance of finding a viable mate, meaning, obviously, fewer offspring. Inevitable inbreeding leads to disease and less genetic diversity. Paul Ehrlich, president of the Center for Conservation Biology at Stanford University, put it succinctly, “Building an impermeable wall along the longest border in the Western hemisphere is a stupid idea — it’s senseless. It’s truly a moronic move by a truly moronic administration.”
Assuming Trump’s Folly will be built, Wyoming gives us an example of how to mitigate the consequences for wildlife. For the past six thousand years, Yellowstone pronghorn antelope have annually migrated along a 170-mile corridor between the upper Green River basin and Grand Teton National Park. U.S. Highway 191 imposed a barrier to the pronghorn’s travels. To promote migration and reduce the carnage from animals trying to cross the highway, the Wyoming Department of Transportation built eight overpasses. It took a couple years, but the pronghorn have adapted and the animal-automobile collisions have been reduced over seventy percent. One would think such crossings should be simple to monitor for people migration.