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Photographers Focus on Wildlife Impact of Border Wall

January 19, 2009

Phoenix, AZ - As Homeland Security rushes to build 700 miles of wall along the Mexican border, from California through Arizona and Texas, a group of environmentally active photographers is documenting the wall's effects on wildlife. Congress exempted the border wall from environmental laws such as the Endangered Species Act, and on Friday, ten photographers began a three-week project to document the wildlife, ecology, and effects immigration and the border wall are having on this landscape.

Krista Schlyer, of the International League of Conservation Photographers, says the wall is blocking wildlife migration corridors.

"The animals need to be able to move to seek out food, water, shelter, and mates. In the border lands, if you put up a wall, certain species aren't going to be able to get to a water source that they've been going to for centuries."

Schlyer predicts global warming will increase the wall’s negative impact.

"As these droughts are increasing in the Southwest and as global warming continues, animals are going to need to move northward in order to be able to continue to survive. And, if there's a wall, they're just not going to be able to do that."

The wall will adversely affect Arizona species like gray wolves, bighorn sheep and pronghorn antelopes, predicts Schlyer. But, she’s especially concerned about the ocelot population in South Texas.

"There is a fairly strong population of ocelots in Mexico and a struggling population in Texas. In order to increase their population, they often travel to Mexico in order to find mates, and then they'll come back into the United States."

Some nearby residents say the wall makes them feel safer, while the Border Patrol concedes the wall is not able to stop people from crossing the border - only slow them down. The photographers say, while people are able to go over the wall or cut through it, wildlife cannot.

Doug Ramsey, Public News Service - AZ