The survival of more than 1,000 animal species would be seriously threatened if the wall wanted by President Donald Trump was built all along the border between the United States and Mexico, scientists warned.
The Mexican wolf, the bighorn sheep and the Sonoran antelope, for example, would have their populations split by this wall, explained more than 2700 researchers in a letter published in the journal BioScience.
Jaguars and ocelots, which have a very small population in US territory, would be threatened with extinction.
“The construction of fences and walls over the last decade and the efforts of the Trump administration to build a continuous border wall threaten some of the continent’s most biologically diverse regions,” warn scientists.
“The sections of the wall already built reduce the area, quality and connectivity of plant and animal habitats, and jeopardize more than a century of binational investments in conservation,” they add, lamenting that “politicians and the media […] often underestimates or denatures the harm done to biodiversity “.
When animal populations are fragmented, it is more difficult for them to find food, water and partners to mate, and thus face higher risks of extinction.
About 60 species present in this border region are already listed as “critically endangered, endangered or vulnerable by the International Union for Conservation of Nature,” according to the scientists.
The wall would be “a crime against biodiversity,” says in a statement a co-author of the letter, Paul Ehrlich, a professor at Stanford University.
The researchers are calling on the US authorities to identify vulnerable species and to design barriers that allow animals to move as far as they can from one side to the other.
A law enacted in 2005 in the United States gives the Department of Homeland Security the right to lift protections such as the Endangered Species Act if it feels they can slow down the construction of the wall.