Posted by: aboutbirds | October 12, 2009

The Border Fence and Birds: How will they Fare?


Putting a fence up between Mexico and the United States doesn’t seem to be so bad when it comes to birds. Reasons for the fence and their political implications aside, animals should not have much of a problem going around or over a fence. Well, that may not be the case. Approximately, 516 species travel through the south Texas area every year. That’s over half the entire species seen in North America, it’s a very significant number. There are even species in the area that are only seen in the US in south Texas, but no where else the US. These species include green jays, altamira orioles, ringed kingfishers, green kingfishers, great kiskadees, red-billed pigeons, least grebes, and ferruginous pygmy-owls. Their non-avian friends in the area include ocelots and jaguarundis.

The fence does not cover the entire border between Mexico and the United States, but it does cover some important wildlife habitat in the Rio Grande Valley. Also, many laws have been pushed aside in the building of the fence. These laws include the Clean Water Act, the Clean Air Act, and the Endangered Species Act. So it seems that the government doesn’t care if there’s an endangered species, it will build the fence anyway in the name of “security.”

The fence also has a very strange route. It does not follow the river and it does not follow the actual border. It cuts through the land about two miles north of the border. This means that people who own land in the area, may not own that land anymore because it is now apart of Mexico. There is a lot of agriculture in the area, so it is not uncommon for that to happen. The small wildlife areas are not faring any better. These areas are being cut in half and species are being cut off from potential mates and having their habitat torn in half. Also, some early research has shown that even though birds can fly over the fence, they may be hesitant to do so. The Sabal Palm Sanctuary, a popular spot for birding southeast of Brownsville, will be about a quarter mile on the other side of the fence if the plans go accordingly. At this sanctuary birders can hope to see plain chachalacas, black-bellied whistling ducks, olive sparrows, buff-bellied hummingbirds, and hopefully some golden-crowned warblers, tropical parulas, and rose-throated becards. Most likely this amazing area will be cut off from the United States, and the area will degrade.

Obviously, there’s nothing that can be done to stop the construction of this fence. Most of it has already been built and about seventy miles are left. There most likely will not be any major changes to the rest of the fence, which means the Sabal Palm Sanctuary will be apart of Mexico in the future. Only after the fence has been built have environmental surveys come in to see the damage. What’s the point of doing the surveys after the fact when they’re meant to happen before the fact. Even if there’s great damage to wildlife, Congress will only shrug its shoulders and say that it’s all in the name of keeping people out.

Why is it that species welfare always comes last?

Click here to see the full article.

Pictured: Green Kingfisher



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