Walling Off Wildlife

The Trump administration pushes forward with plan to wall off wildlife.

While the president continues his bombastic border wall talk and the administration and Congress argue over funding for this monstrosity, construction equipment is already moving in, land is being cleared and people and wildlife are being displaced in the borderlands of California and Texas.

By Hook or by Crook

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has already waived a host of environmental and other laws in order to expand the border wall along a 15-mile stretch of the U.S.-Mexico border near San Diego, California. Defenders, along with a coalition of national conservation groups, sued to stop this unlawful overreach of the authority provided by Congress in the Real ID Act of 2005.

Similarly, in Texas the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) have started clearing land, taking soil samples and conducting tests in areas where they plan to build new border wall – often without even notifying the landowners or the public of their actions. This was the case when the managers of the National Butterfly Center in Mission, Texas, discovered industrial mowers stripping vegetation from their land and imperiling more than 200 species of butterflies.

Now, CBP is trying to conceal efforts to build a 60-mile extension through the area that includes two national wildlife refuges and important habitat for the endangered ocelot and jaguarundi.

In a letter recently sent to a select group of stakeholders earlier this month, CBP requested comments on the proposed construction of 60 miles of border wall that would cut through parts of the Santa Ana National Wildlife Refuge, the Lower Rio Grande Valley National Wildlife Refuge, the National Butterfly Center and the Bentsen-Rio Grande Valley State Park. The letter appears to be a dubious ploy to claim that the agency is fulfilling its obligation to “seek public comment,” while not actually making the public aware of their plans. Perhaps even they realize what a terrible idea it is to construct a barrier through these sensitive habitats and critical wildlife corridors that support countless species of wildlife, including more than 500 species of birds, 300 butterfly species and 1,200 plant species.

A Tale of Two Refuges

Santa Ana National Wildlife Refuge

Few places in the Western Hemisphere exhibit such a diversity of flora and fauna as the lower Rio Grande Valley in south Texas, home to the Santa Ana National Wildlife Refuge. While small in size, the Santa Ana Refuge contains an abundance of neotropical songbirds, raptors, mammals and reptiles, including the nine-banded armadillo, Texas tortoise, Mexican free-tailed bat. It is also home to more than 400 bird species, more than 300 species of butterflies –half of all butterfly species found in North America – and more than 450 varieties of plants.

The refuge also provides habitat for at least eight species protected under the Endangered Species Act, including the highly-imperiled ocelot and jaguarundi. With fewer than 50 left in the United States, the refuge is essential to ocelot recovery.

Lower Rio Grande Valley National Wildlife Refuge

Comprising several units along the Rio Grande, the Lower Rio Grande Valley National Wildlife Refuge helps protect a crucial link between coastal and river wildlife corridors. The various refuge units are located at the nexus of four climate zones – tropical, temperate, coastal and desert – and at the confluence of the Mississippi and Central flyways, making the region one of the most diverse conservation areas in North America. The Lower Rio Grande Valley is home to more than 700 vertebrate species, 300 species of butterfly and at least 18 threatened or endangered species, including the highly-endangered ocelot and jaguarundi.

The Lower Rio Grande Valley refuge complex conserves Mid-Delta Thorn Forest, a rare forest type that provides habitat for an array of small mammals and birds and serves as a key hunting ground for the ocelot. As the thorn forest has continued to diminish over the years, ocelots have been forced to cross open fields and been exposed to more dangers from vehicular traffic and predators. Further degradation of this crucial habitat from wall construction could prove devastating to the dwindling U.S. population of ocelots.

A Decisive Blow to Wildlife

The construction of an impenetrable wall through these refuges would fragment riparian habitats, block migration corridors for rare migratory birds and imperiled species, degrade and destroy habitat, and disrupt nesting, breeding and foraging by countless birds and other wildlife. Levee walls, which are proposed for at least 28 miles along this route, can trap wildlife and drown animals during severe flooding events.

Both refuges serve as important migration corridors for animals like the ocelot and jaguarundi, who travel back and forth from Mexico to the U.S. These rare cats would be cut off from crucial habitat affecting their dispersal and their potential to establish new resident populations in the U.S. The noise from increased vehicle traffic and lighting along the border wall could also greatly impair these animals’ ability to hunt and alter the behavior of their prey.

 No Longer the “Land of the Free” for Wildlife

A border wall offends our core American values – freedom, equality, justice and the preservation of our natural heritage. For wildlife in the borderlands, a wall would set back decades of conservation success in the region.

We are the guardians of these imperiled animals and at Defenders we are fighting to make sure they have a voice and can continue to recover and prosper in our country. The illicit and secretive actions by the current administration would have disastrous consequences for wildlife.

Tell CPB and the administration that you oppose any border wall construction that would destroy vital wildlife habitat on our national wildlife refuges and public lands.

Defenders is committed to protecting human communities, wildlife and habitat threatened by a border wall. We have joined a diverse coalition of conservation, human rights, civil rights, religious and other groups to mount substantial opposition. Please join us in this important fight.

Act now!

Tell the administration you won't stand for any attack on our refuges or our wildlife. Stand up for imperiled wildlife in jeopardy because of the border wall.

Stand up for wildlife now! »

62 Responses to “Walling Off Wildlife”

  1. Caitlin

    Doing such actions to the environment its people and animals is the wrong course to take. Damage to vital lands and so many species will ocur when it needs so much to protected and preserved.

  2. Sharon Hayes

    Please protect our natural habitat & our animals…we do not need a wall…if we do it would be to keep Trump & his family out!!!

  3. Nancy Graham

    What in the world are we thinking? Man can’t be destructive enough with each other we now have to take on wildlife, butterflies, & plants as well. And for what purpose? We need to build a wall to separate the USA from Mexico. And this is going to help what vs the expenditure and the destruction and demise that it will cause! Let’s actually think this one through folks! It’s not worth the demise of animal, butterfly & plant species…or the cost to erect such a monster. Look what people thought of the Great Wall of China & that wall came down!

  4. Shirley Sutter

    How we respond to our wildlife our environment and the crises faced will determine the health of our planet now and in the future.

  5. Antoinette erb

    We need everything that came with the earth. Whether it be insect or mammal or bird or flora all the wet lands fields and forests. They need our care and concern and protection.

  6. Robin Larrabee

    Please do not build a border wall. It would be a grotesque waste of money. There’s never been a wall that humans can’t circumvent. Think ladders or tunnels. The only thing a wall would accomplish is to halt critical wildlife passage. Wildlife worldwide are endangered to critically endangered. Most illegal immigrants arrive by flying into the United States and staying on after their visa expired. A wall is such an incredibly stupid idea that it is hard to believe that anyone thinks it might be a solution.

    • J.Sorrentino

      There are underground tunnels between America & Mexico. This is how El Chappo escaped from prison, but sent his drugs to America.

  7. Sandy Hollis

    It would be a travesty to damage or to not protect and preserve wildlife and their habitat. Our world is in danger of extinction of many species without contributing to this devastation. We should cease cruelty to all animals

    • J.Sorrentino

      If we build bridges & underground bridges for our wildlife to pass from 1 side of a freeway to another, this should be enforced for our wildlife here too!!
      We will continue to lose our wildlife if our wildlife is not protected.

  8. Louise Yee

    Stop mortgaging our future and short-sighted lack of planning and lack of consideration of the consequences.

  9. Suzna

    Men are the most dangerous animals on the planet. Destruction and death is thier motto.

  10. Judy Duerr

    The Feds must stop this murder of wildlife (through loss of habitat) and rape of the land.

  11. Gail Muzzy

    It’s always about you. You’re a fool if you think the public doesn’t know this. I used to support you until you showed your true self.

  12. Margie Kalligher

    As much as I would hope this comment would matter, I know that Trump just doesn’t give a rats ass what we think. Human life matters little to Trump, why would he care about wildlife. Trump is an entitled brat who never grew up, he is not an adult capable of empathy, sympathy or rational thinking. He is devoid of conscience or caring, he is non-reflective and cares not about any other living thing. He is self-indulgent and self-righteous. How can we expect him to change anything that does not pay him off in some way?

  13. Teresa morris

    Please save our national treasures! Our children need them, our earth needs them, we all love them dearly! Precious treasures God gave us, we must protect!

  14. Taylor Ivy

    We must keep our ecosystem in balance. The Wall will not do anything to support our ecosystem.

  15. Tammi Lee

    Animals need protection and our help, not for us to be their destruction.

  16. Kim Hoffman

    Cruelty to animals. Cruelty to people. No one wants a wall. Please at least let the public vote on this issue in an election that is ran fairly and not just a campaign platform. Stop before many species parish.
    Kim Hoffman

  17. Joanna Schoettler

    This wall is stupid, irresponsible and cruel. The Animal People need safe and easy passage for their way of life. It’s our responsibility to honor and protect their ways. Walls don’t protect they destroy.

    Your interpretation of our neighbor to the south is degrading and cruel. We need to work with our neighbors to the south to create a world that everyone wins.

  18. Bradley Correia

    If they want this wall built, they can afford to extend it around the wildlife habitat, either on the inside of the U.S. or the outside of it.

  19. Tanya

    What about all soiled disposable diapers, plastic bags and garbage the illegals have been leaving along the border? Is that good for the environment or wildlife?

  20. Donna

    Please stop tjis insanity! Trump vowed to help mexicans after the hurricanes but still wants a wall!

  21. Donna Cunningham

    Please stop this destruction of everything we hold dear.
    You use false information to promote an agenda that only harms people, animals and our environment. You claim to be all the People’s representatives. Prove change this path you are on. Stop hurting everything we have.

  22. Maureen Thylen

    Does anyone in this administration have an IQ over 0 ?? Seems not !! There are obviously no boundaries when it comes to stupidity 😡

  23. Jennifer

    I think it’s a bad idea to to do such a thing to keep our wildlife out is not OK building a wall is not going to solve all problems trump needs to stop just doing what he thinks is best instead of listening to the American people and finding better way to solve the issues we are going through thank you I oppose this myself

  24. Cai

    That wall must removed and destroy the border wall for wildlife habitat and wildlife animals and humanity population must go to outer space today

  25. Margaret Hurlbert

    Please don’t build the wall and harm our wildlife! We need all of our species to thrive!

  26. Charlie

    I’ve done the research myself and although this may have an impact on wildlife, it will be very very minor and won’t effect them.

  27. Marius Wasbauer

    When Trump and all his Republican cronies are long gone, and (we hope) forgotten, we will still have to deal with the destruction to wildlife habitat they have caused and some of it will be irreversible

  28. Wanda Majeski

    With all the technology we have nowadays how come we aren’t using Electronics on poles set at certain intervals to detect border crossings? In areas where it’s impossible to build walls or put up chain link fences with razor wire Etc, the technology is there to scan electronically the areas that would most likely be Crossings for illegal aliens. It’s like an invisible line drawn in the sand and if someone approaches it within so many feet the alarm goes off and sends a signal to the main base to send out the authorities to check it out. This way there’s no wall except an invisible wall.

    This way the native species of animals and birds and fish and butterflies and flowers Etc can continue to be alive and well without their area they live in being alternate by bulldozers and razor wire fences and block walls Etc.

  29. Craig Alberhasky

    Trump is a POS. The sooner that clown and his minions are gone the better. I wish a environmentalist would be president and that would be his/her first priority. I guy can dream.

  30. Burnham Gould

    I agree that animal cruelty must stop. We need to protect both wild and domestic animals.

  31. Augie Snyder

    i echo tammi lee – Animals need protection and our help, not for us to be their destruction.

  32. Diane Schmolka

    It is not only unfortunate, but also threatening, that those in the USA have a president who has not matured. While no one is perfect, his attitudes and consequent actions put all life, whether wild or not, in peril. While some of the actions are not immediately threatening to humans, the consequences are certain to be because we are integrally connected to all other animal and plant species ‘lower’ than ours. Like young teenagers, this president and his cronies, do not ‘think things through’ thoroughly. They base their policies on immature narcissistic desires. We must develop strategies to stop them now!

  33. Margie Cox

    When you stop a eco system from functioning by preventing natural behavior interaction you will be causeing river erosion as well as wild life issues from population balance being maintained through natural predator culling of weak or sick animals population wise. A healthy pipulation as well as vegitation environment all works together along river systems. Disease and death of species happens.please dont be noncareing and stupid how real nature actually works and support a healthy working environment. It can trickle right down to rodent population and disease transffered to humans next!!!

  34. Christopher Greffin

    I’m hoping various lawsuits can indefinitely delay if not scrap outright the stupid border wall until a sane administration can come in and change course. But of course this is only one of many horrible environmental policies we must fight against from this administration that couldn’t care less for this planet.

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