Border Fence Threatens Wildlife

A re-enactment of a fugitive fleeing the U.S. (Luis Marden)


While the fence between U.S.-Mexico is intended to stop smuggling, terrorism, and illegal immigration, endangered animals are also being stopped at the border. A recent study finds that the 750 miles of border fence currently in place breaks up animal ranges, restricting their movements and making isolated populations more vulnerable to hurricanes, fires, and other disasters. Among the most affected by the fence are such vulnerable animals as the Arroyo toad and the Pacific pond turtle, as well as smaller cat species like the jaguarundi and bobcat.

When the border fence was first authorized in 2006, the Department of Homeland Security waived applicable environmental laws during construction. Since then, U.S. Customs and Border Protection has committed resources for environmental mitigation. However, some of these funds were rescinded by Congress in 2011.

For all the latest science news, check out National Geographic Library’s twice-weekly news rundown, EarthCurrent.

Human Journey

Meet the Author
Since 2005, Michael has been a librarian at National Geographic.