Border wall causes jaguars to spend more energy accessing key resources

By Kendal Blust
Published: Wednesday, November 2, 2022 - 3:33pm
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Conservationists have long described the impacts of the border wall on wildlife in the Arizona-Sonora borderlands. Now, a new study looks at how that infrastructure is causing increased energy expenditures for jaguar populations.

Published in the journal Frontiers in Conservation Science, the paper found that border wall construction has increased the energy required for northern jaguars to reach key water sources in areas if southern Arizona considered vital habitat for the species.

Study co-author Myles Traphagen, with the nonprofit Wildlands Network, said border walls force jaguars to travel longer distances to access desert springs and other important resources. That exposes the endangered species to additional dangers, and "they are also becoming potentially weaker because they are just going to have to expend a lot more energy," he said.

That makes the border wall an impediment to jaguar conservation and reintroduction in the United States. And the study authors recommend remediation that includes creating gaps in the border wall that allow jaguars and other species to move through washes and other less rugged terrain.

Traphagen added that Gov. Doug Ducey’s shipping container wall could force jaguars and other species to travel even longer distances to reach needed resources.