What does the possible Border Wall mean for the ecosystem?

By Briana Mitchel (’19)

The debate about the possible building of the border wall has been very tense since the election of President Trump, but a frequently overlooked problem is the effect that this may have to the ecosystem around the building site. The wall itself will separate the migration of some animals that would usually cross between the two countries without a problem. This will make food resources scarce for animals like jaguars, ocelots, and the Mexican gray wolf, and with these animals already struggling population-wise, the border wall could further these animal’s risk of extinction. The wall would  break up naturally formed habitats for these animals who have been essential in maintaining the food chain in an ecosystem that existed before humans drew a border through it.

According to a 2016 analysis of data from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, “More than 100 animals that are listed as threatened, endangered or candidates for such status under the Endangered Species Act from coast to coast could potentially be impacted by Trump’s proposal.” In addition to those mentioned above, among these animals are migratory birds. With the 30 foot wall in place, it will make it difficult for birds to migrate properly which will, in turn, affect the reproduction of the birds that are in the vicinity and may lead to more endangered animals, further weakening the ecosystems that we all depend on for our wellbeing. According to Vox, “The new sections of fence under contract are slated for the Lower Rio Grande Valley of Texas and will cut right through a federal wildlife refuge, a state park, Native American gravesites, and the National Butterfly Center. Conservationists and wildlife managers consider this region to be one of the most ecologically valuable areas on the border.” With the blatant disregard of those who reside there – humans, ancestors, and animals – it is important that this is talked about at least in our community if it is not going to recognized by the President. However, to make a change that is generational it first has to be acknowledged by our President. This barrier will prevent animals from accessing food and water, disrupt migration and reproduction, and change the way animals interact with each other, forcing  adaptation to survive. Adaptation is a consistent part of life for human and nonhuman inhabitants of this planet, but we have the power to make decisions that support life rather than force a fight for survival.

The building of the border wall will be detrimental to all species and have an almost horrific domino effect to all animals and will, in turn, hurt humans as well, as our own well-being depends on thriving ecosystems. Much like national geographic suggests from this list of ways the border wall could disrupt the environment, it shows that this one action is contingent to various aspects of the environment. Check out the link below! https://www.nationalgeographic.com/environment/2019/01/how-trump-us-mexico-border-wall-could-impact-environment-wildlife-water/

Existing border wall and jaguar movement corridors.
Existing border wall and jaguar movement corridors. (Source: Defenders of Wildlife, cited in “Trump’s Border Wall ‘Catastrophic’ for Environment, Endangered Species: Activists” NBC News)

Sustain-Sip-Stories Monthly Gatherings

Eat, drink, and share stories about how environmental sustainability intersects with complex issues and our own stories! We’ll gather in the Food Lab each month to explore a new topic, grounded in a shared reading/listening and our own experiences with the topic. All are welcome! (even if you didn’t do the homework)

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