Debate Over Border Fence Ignores One Big Factor

Scientist: We need to be smart about wildlife's ability to roam
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Feb 11, 2015 1:18 PM CST
Debate Over Border Fence Ignores One Big Factor
A Mexican gray wolf.   (AP Photo/U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Jim Clark, File)

As the US beefs up its border fence along the Mexican border, one group very much affected isn't getting a say in the matter: wildlife. In the New York Times today, a scientist with the Wildlife Conservation Society writes that jaguars, ocelots, wolves, bears, and other animals are finding their natural habitats fenced in. "Keeping our borders permeable for large carnivores is essential to supporting the fantastic biodiversity in these regions," writes Jon Beckmann. He understands the need for security and isn't advocating a fence-free border—the trick is to be smart about it.

Some areas of the border fence, especially those near heavily populated areas, are impermeable for humans and animals alike. In the desert, however, "it’s often the creeks, rivers and streams that provide conduits for large carnivores to move between the forested mountain ranges that are their favored habitat," writes Beckmann. "So here, porous fence designs could be combined with remote monitoring that relies on fixed cameras and drone surveillance." Wolves and other species have learned to survive in this environment over centuries, and it's not right to impose our borders on animals that have no need for them, he writes. Click for the full column. (More US-Mexico border stories.)

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