DECEMBER 23, 2011
The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) will soon get unsolicited advice from a group of U.S. government scientists that claim fencing along the Mexican border threatens the black bear population.
The esteemed researchers recently published a study warning that the border wall erected to protect the country from illegal immigration and drug smuggling is an obstacle that blocks bears in migration. This may threaten the black bear population in parts of Arizona, they say. The findings were published recently in a science research journal so it didn’t get much publicity until a mainstream newspaper picked it up this week.
The newspaper article goes into considerable detail about how the probe was conducted, mainly by using pieces of barbed wire to capture genetic samples of “foraging” bears. This helped scientists track various bear populations in Arizona. The population density of the border bears was substantially lower than the bears living farther north, which had a wider habitat that was less vulnerable to development, the researchers found.
The bear study is simply the latest of many to make a case against the southern border fence in the name of preserving wildlife. A number of others have made similar arguments, some even claiming that the barrier will lead to the extinction of certain species of wildlife. One example is a University of Texas study that found more than 300 species of amphibian, reptile, and mammals are threatened by the border barrier.
Another accuses the U.S. government of ignoring scientific research and historical evidence of the border fence’s negative effects to wildlife and conservation lands. A fence is slated to traverse important ecological areas, including the Lower Rio Grande Valley National Wildlife Refuge and the Sabal Palm Audubon Center and Sanctuary, according to this particular university paper.
Other studies, less publicized by the mainstream media, have exposed how the constant traffic of illegal immigration (where there is no fence) has destroyed hundreds of acres of national forests and their habitat. Illegal immigrants have devastated national parks by leaving mountains of trash and human waste, with recurring fires and by despoiling natural springs and vandalizing historic sites. The migrants have also created damaging illegal trails and roads that destroy sensitive and federally protected vegetation.
The bear researchers will conveniently omit this sort of information when they meet with DHS officials and other state and federal agencies to “generate innovative solutions” that take bears into consideration when border security is discussed. They want the well-being of all large carnivores to be considered when crafting border security policies.
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