Brittney Donahue-Anchor Editor
When Donald Trump declared his candidacy in 2015, he did so by promising to erect a wall along the Mexican border. At the time, his campaign seemed like a bad joke or publicity stunt. Fast forward to today and we are living with a presidential administration that seems to have no problem hurting both the American people and our environment.
Despite experts cautioning that a wall would do nothing to solve the problems of illegal immigration and drug trafficking, President Trump is determined to plow forward. He is either unaware or (a more likely explanation) does not care about the impact a wall would have on an area that boasts arguably the greatest biodiversity in North America.
The southwest regions of the United States are home to a wide variety of species that have been severely impacted by the miles of wall already constructed. This includes the severely endangered Mexican Gray Wolf, shown in the image. By the 1970s, this subspecies of the Gray Wolf was entirely wiped out in the U.S. with just a small population remaining in zoos and a handful more in Mexico. In 1998 the Fish and Wildlife service released 11 wolves into Arizona in the hope of reestablishing healthy breeding populations. In 2011, Mexico enacted a similar plan, and there are now approximately 100 wolves north of the border and 35 wolves to the south.
This revival of an endangered species is great news, but a wall disrupting the free migration of the animals will mean frequent inbreeding of the separated populations, resulting in a weaker genetic pool. The population is simply not large enough to withstand limited mating options.
The Pronghorn, America’s fastest land mammal, will face a similar disadvantage. If a wall interrupts their yearly migration patterns, there will be devastating consequences on the long term health of the population. Even some birds, such as the Ferruginous Pygmy Owl, will find themselves stuck on either side of the barrier. The tiny owl averages about 2.5 ounces and rarely flies higher than 5 feet into the air. The Center for Biological Diversity released a study saying that a border wall would threaten a total of 93 endangered species.
On August 27, at Trump’s rally in Phoenix, Arizona, he threatened a government shutdown if he did not get the estimated 38 billion dollars required to build this useless barrier. We can hope he was bluffing, but I urge everyone to stay informed and active. Exercise your First Amendment rights to free speech and peaceful protest, and remind our Senators and Representatives that there are much better things on which to spend 38 billion dollars.
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