Trump’s border wall plan doesn’t just impact humans

Cienna Barney, Photographer, writer

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Throughout the past couple of years, there has been continuous debate about Donald Trump’s plans to build a wall along the Mexican border. The plan was formerly introduced in 2017, and includes spending $20 billion to build a 30 foot tall concrete wall that will stretch 2,000 miles along the border. Although this could be beneficial in curbing illegal immigration problem, it will have many negative impacts on the environment.

The wall will stretch through some of the world’s most biologically diverse regions, and many plant and animal species living in these regions could face extinction. The border wall would pass through four wildlife reserves, cutting the populations of any species living there in half (Dirzo, Rodolfo, et al). Animals such as the bighorn sheep, which have very few individuals in given areas, would be completely cut in half and because of their low populations, this would reduce their capacity to adapt to the environment, decreasing genetic variations and causing breeding problems.  According to Professor Rodolfo Dirzo at Stanford University, “Cut off like this, the bighorn and other animals and plants will become zombie species – populations that are demographically and genetically doomed.”

More species that are threatened by extinction include the jaguar, the gray wolf, the West Indian Manatee, multiples of sea turtle species and the famous American Bald Eagle. The aquatic species would be affected because the wall would be built in waters that aren’t shallow to prevent simply climbing over it, and the structure would therefore run through the habitats of multiple sea creatures. Just off the Gulf of Mexico, several species, including the manatee and sea turtle species, and many other aquatic animals, inhabit the shallow waters. A cut off betwe

en the land and water can prevent sea turtles from building their nests on beaches, further destroying their ability to breed and reproduce.

Not only does the border plan affect endangered species, it also harms the migration patterns of populated species. Physical barriers decrease the chance of animals finding necessities to survive in the wild, such as food, water, and mates for repopulating. The massive decrease in biodiversity in these regions can cause imbalances and damage pre-existing habitats.  Migration

patterns of species such as black bears, road runners, wild turkeys, snakes and even birds, such as the ferruginous pygmy owls would be interrupted because they rarely take flights lofty enough to clear border fences and often avoid large gaps in vegetation.

Why should the average American citizen care about it? Even if you aren’t concerned about protecting endangered species, the effect on animals might impact you in other ways. For example, because the destruction of wildlife habitat leads to a decrease in hunting and fish to sell, then more restrictions are put on hunting due to the loss of populations. This causes a decline in the economy and the health of the natural resources we use every day.

So far, there are no existing plans for any of the species threatened by the wall, and a new design is yet to be proposed. My suggestion is t

o start with a change in policies and programs that can provide a more secure border while protecting the sovereignty of both. The U.S. and Mexican law enforcement could collaborate on a plan for border protection where both sides of the border could be properly secured, giving immigrants less leeway to enter the United States illegally. Collaborating with Mexican government would also give us the strength of an allied power. Until a new plan is proposed, however, these species will be at increased risk of extinction if this wall is built.

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