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Fast-tracked border wall may be a death sentence for these animals

Fast-tracked border wall may be a death sentence for these animals

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A jaguar (Panthera onca) at the Toronto Zoo.
A jaguar (Panthera onca) at the Toronto Zoo.
Photo by MarcusObal/Wikimedia Commons

The fight against President Trump’s border wall gained urgency this week when the Department of Homeland Security announced plans to fast-track construction. Photos are a particularly effective reminder of just what is at stake, and yesterday the American Society of Mammalogists tweeted pictures of species that the wall threatens.

Scientific and environmental groups have been pushing back against President Trump’s border wall since his campaign, arguing that it could devastate the wildlife that live and migrate through the region.

Nevertheless, the Trump administration is working quickly to make the wall a reality. On Tuesday the Department of Homeland Security announced that it will be ignoring “a variety of environmental, natural resource, and land management laws” to speed construction of the border wall. The first phase will focus on building prototype walls and roads along a 15-mile stretch south of San Diego that starts at the Pacific Ocean.

With this waiver, the administration will not have to assess the environmental impact the wall could have on migratory and local wildlife — not to mention local communities. “Trump wants to scare people into letting him ignore the law and endanger wildlife and people," Brian Segee, an attorney with the Center for Biological Diversity, said in a statement. "Trump's wall is a divisive symbol of fear and hatred, and it does real harm to the landscape and communities."

The US Fish and Wildlife Services listed more than 100 endangered species that would be threatened by the construction project in a 2016 report. The wall could also damage fish hatcheries, wildlife refuges, and protected wetlands.

The American Society of Mammalogists, a nonprofit scientific organization with almost 3,000 members, agrees. Earlier this summer, it published a resolution detailing the damage a border could do to North American mammals. Yesterday, the organization followed up with a photographic reminder of some of the more charismatic species this wall would harm.

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