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5 Animals Hurt by the U.S./Mexican Border Wall

5 Animals Hurt by the U.S./Mexican Border Wall

While we often contemplate the human impact of placing walls on the border of the United States and Mexico, the consequences to the local wildlife are often overlooked. A political divide is not the same as an ecological one; species that have lived on both sides of the border have no knowledge of the arbitrary line in the sand.

Putting up walls may not be a good immigration policy, unless Americans are really just looking to keep out “foreign” critters. Although humans can often find ways to surmount the fences anyway, the animals are unable to get around them, forcing them to adapt to a new, more limited environment.

Many creatures rely on the Rio Grande as their main source of fresh water, so having their supply cut off by a fence is fatal. Here are five animals that have been especially impacted by the border walls:


1. Pumas

Biologists at the University of Bristol conducted a study that found that the puma population all but disappeared from former habitats that had a giant wall put up. The animals need adequate space to roam, so having their area divided in half forces them to look for space elsewhere.

2. Coatis

The same biologists found that coatis, creatures often compared to raccoons, were even more affected by fences. Since coatis are unable to travel very far, the scientists worry that the fences will lead to a “collapse in [the coatis’] population.”

3. Pygmy Owls

Though you might imagine that birds can just fly over fences, since these small owls spend most of their time flying at levels below the top of the security walls, they are effectively trapped on one side or the other. Experts worry that blocking the flow of pygmy owl migration will ultimately eliminate the existence of these birds in Arizona.

4. Bighorn Sheep

Sheep populations that once mingled freely are now involuntarily divided into two groups. As a result, the genetic diversity that has been credited with the species’ long term survival is jeopardized. While some fences do include small holes for tiny animals to pass through, none of them can accommodate something the size of the sheep since it would allow humans to pass through as well.


5. Bobcats

When the government erected a border fence by the South Texas Wildlife Refuge Complex, Mitch Sternberg, a biologist tasked with tracking local bobcats by electronic collar, found just how devastating the construction was for the animals. Without proper room to roam, the bobcats moved on to less safe, human-populated territories where vehicles inevitably killed many of them.

Clearly, the walls aren’t just separating human families – they’re separating animals from their communities, as well.

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5:04AM PDT on Jul 20, 2014

Can their welfare never be interfered by the human?

4:21AM PDT on Jul 20, 2014

we need to be able to look after the wildlife as well. they have as much right to be here as we matter what most people out there think...

11:09AM PDT on Jul 9, 2014

They built salmon stairs by dams for the fish to go upstream. Lets brainstorm the situation.

5:32AM PDT on Jul 2, 2014

I sure hope we don't lose any of these animals!

3:17PM PDT on Jun 5, 2014


11:38AM PDT on May 16, 2014

We need to put a stop to the illegals. The animals will find a way to adapt to change. Our country can't take more criminals and coming here illegally makes one a criminal.

10:04AM PDT on Apr 29, 2014

To Kevin Matthews.
I admire your compassion and empathy in this viewpoint. Can I quote form this article of yours in one of our weekly shows please?
David Forjan
Creative Director
The Animal News Hour

8:30PM PDT on Apr 27, 2014

When considering most of the border traffic that is happening is coming through tunnels, walls seem pretty useless. A waste of funds and problematic for wildlife. Wildlifes needs are never considered when it comes to decision-making.

7:32AM PDT on Apr 22, 2014

It is really shameful that humans think only of themselves. In the bid to protect immigrants from entering the US the immigration authorities in Texas and New Mexico decided to build a wall. But this act shows that the planners and the people associated with building this wall to prevent illegal immigration never took into account the ecological harm that was going to result. It shows the level and the depth of thinking and the planning capacity of these people and a the importance they give to wildlife. The wall has been built but has immigration to the US been curbed? No! Rather it has increased and the only victims are the precious wildlife on both sides of the fence. It shows the utter callousness and the myopic thinking of the authorities. Conservationists and ecologists should have been more forceful in bring the attention of the authorities about the impact the wall would have on the animals. Either they did not have the guts or they really wanted the to be built. It's a real shame for the people of the United States. They should even now think of a way to get around this problem. But by and large Americans are really not interested in protecting wildlife. They are only interested in themselves.

6:21PM PDT on Apr 19, 2014

Believe it or not most of those animals live on golf courses. So the inhabited area has learned to adjust with their presence. As for water from the Rio Grande, the fence is not going to be a damn. Water flow will still occur from the Rio Grande to all of it's branches. Which many smaller branches go into the local golf courses that some of those animals inhabit. The Rio Grande itself has a rather strong undertow and strong flow which is why so many illegals drown trying to cross it. It is funny that environmentalists do not seem to have a problem with all the sky rise buildings, homes, fences, government buildings, etc. that take up acres of land wild animals can roam. However, build a skinny fence and all of a sudden they care. Environmentalists complain about golf courses, maybe since they assume only rich people play golf, when golf courses across the U.S. allow numerous wild animals to share the land.

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