Saturday, January 14, 2012

If You Build It......

"Tear down this wall Mr. Gorbachev!" exclaimed former and now deceased President Ronald Reagan to the Soviet leader in the 80's.  A line has been drawn here in the desert southwest between the environment and people wanting to keep the illegals out of the United States.  A border fence or wall would make "the wall" in George RR Martins books pale in comparison. I am a Sonoran aficionado for life. If you aren't aware of what is going on, I'll fill you in.  The US government is toying with the idea of putting up a border fence that would cut off Mexico from the US and thus "prevent" people from crossing our dangerous desert. Certain areas along the border already have a fence but not the entire perimeter. Illegal immigration is an issue and cannot be ignored, but there are other factors at play here.
Recently we have seen the return of the jaguars and ocelots population to Southern Arizona.  It wasn't a secret that for many years they were shot for their fur.  Some people have a jaguar or ocelot stuffed as proof that they once lived here.  Poachers abuse(d) the laws and illegally hunted these animals thus ridding ranchers of the problem. Older generations on both sides of the border decimated the populations and the animals disappeared. People would tell stories about these amazing creatures and it was hard to believe that they once roamed our desert land. To some people, jaguars are like unicorns:) Luckily for these cats, they are extremely elusive and difficult to spot.  Today, while ranchers and poachers still exist, they are fewer in numbers allowing these animals to make a comeback.  Protected lands both on the Mexican and American lands have helped as have laws concerning these animals.  And today, these laws just may save these critically endangered cats from a border fence that is proposed to cut off their routes into the US.  Studies are now being conducted by University of Arizona researchers on how this fence may affect these protected animals.  Cameras have gone up along the border to monitor wildlife crossing.  This issue has been a hot debate here in Arizona.  Once faction states that the fence will keep out illegal immigrants while the opposing faction states it will be a waste of money affecting the terroritories of animals that habitate those areas(which include these endangered cats).  This side also states illegal people crossing the border will find away around the fence through such things like tunnels or coyotes(people who smuggle illegals into the country).  So what's your opinion?  Mine is below.
Here it is.  I took these pics of the mighty ocelot at the Desert Museum.  I had a talk with several of the people around "Cat Canyon" about the recent sighting of the jaguar and ocelot in Southern Arizona.  And people here are excited to see this comeback and addition to our mountain lion and bobcat population. A biodiverse community is a healthy community.  A wall that will cost millions of taxpayer dollars will NOT keep out illegal immigrants.  They will find ways into the US whether we like it or not. They're doing it now!  The wall won't make one bit of difference. I do not support illegals at all.  They cost us a lot more money than they should, but a wall won't keep them out.  It WILL affect our wildlife with a very negative consequence.  You see, many years ago, ranchers put up hundreds of miles of barbed wire fence killing a lot of animals by "roping" them into an area.  Some would get caught up in the fencing and strangle themselves to death.  Today volunteers from all over the world come to take down this ancient fencing which is allowing the wildlife populations back into areas that were previously off limits.  Nowhere is this more evident than at the Buenos Aires Wildlife Refuge.  I'll be taking you there this spring.  It's an incredible place to visit and another little gem most people don't know about:) Doesn't history teach us lessons? As the government and people have faced restriction on monetary expenditures, we as a human race have to learn that there are limits on things.  Not so long ago, people just took took took....cutting down trees, hunting animals to their extinction, and causing massive damage to our environment. And it continues today. But now our attitude is, let's exploit natural resources in other countries. While in Peru, I discovered the US was contribuiting to a wood factory producing fine mahogony products...and thus aiding in the destruction of the Amazon. A fence is not the answer to this issue.  If you do not follow the issue, illegal immigration, at least for this year, is way down in Arizona and hit an all time low for the first time in 30 years.  Part of it has to do with the lack of jobs and the other part has to do with an increase in border security.  So what's your opinion? What's your take on feline vs. the wall?  How would you handle it? More tomorrow....


  1. i usually don't do politics well, but i do agree with you that walls are not the answer. Texas has this same proposal/effort to 'solve the problem' and i don't believe it to be cost-effective or necessarily effective.

  2. The fence gets a "nay" vote from this Texan. Big Bend with a fence through it? No way.

    Agree, the fence won't work. Wildlife or illegals, enforcing the law is what works.

    Beautiful photos to emphasize your point.

  3. Great post that links so many social and biological issues and even non-issues. Too bad the whole "illegal" issue is such a partisan propaganda piece, as when my ancestors immigrated legally here, things were simpler...we should improve off of that! And wildlife issues, by wasting money on the bandaid border fence - right-on again!

    I hope the once-native felines on this side of the political border return, and same for the native peoples in their rightful places.

    And better desert horticulture for all the SW!

  4. Perhaps the ocelot comes here for the food, but the illegals don't - or didn't. It's just another example of how we always try to solve a problem by ignoring the real cause of it. Unfortunately, we seemed to have stumbled upon the answer.

  5. Great post! Same thing is at issue here in south Texas. The fence would not only destroy the Texas population of Ocelots, but also stop many other animals from crossing.
    The fence also leaves the southernmost tip of Texas on the Mexican side. This is the home of a rare stand of palms and a park devoted to their existence. Audubon members come from all over the nation to view rare birds there. We don't need another Berlin Wall (and I went across that border in 1987 when it was still manned by guards on catwalks with machine guns!) Desperate border crossers will take any risk to cross....a wall will only stop animals, not people. david/


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