Study focuses on border barriers' effect on wildlife - Tucson News Now

ONLY ON KOLD: Study focuses on border barriers' effect on wildlife

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Cameras placed around southern Arizona captured images of a variety of wildlife, such as this bobcat. (Source: Jamie McCullum) Cameras placed around southern Arizona captured images of a variety of wildlife, such as this bobcat. (Source: Jamie McCullum)
TUCSON, AZ (Tucson News Now) -

A recently published study by independent researchers found that barriers along the U.S. - Mexico border are restricting the movement of certain wildlife, prompting a new sort of debate along the international divide.

Dan Millis, Borderlands program coordinator for the Sierra Club, said the results of this study support what the environmental agency has been advocating for years about the barriers, which are meant to keep illegal activity from moving into the country.

"Wildlife on the other hand are being impacted really heavily by hundreds of miles of walls that are built right in the middle of their habitat," Millis said.

Researchers placed 36 cameras in different locations around southern Arizona. They captured images of a variety of wildlife including bears, coyotes, coati and mountain lions.

The research found that various border barriers can have an adverse affect on the movement of these animals. Millis said he worries that hurting wildlife on the border could also damage the state's economy.

Arizona Game and Fish cannot comment about the wall itself because it's a federal matter, but spokesperson Mark Hart said they do not monitor how it affects animals in southern Arizona.

"It's not the sort of thing we track," Hart said. "There's more of an awareness that it can and does occur."

Hart highlights several cases of animals appearing in southern Arizona where the only explanation is that they crossed into the state from Mexico, like a jaguar in November 2011 or an ocelot in November 2012.

"It just makes sense that wildlife does not respect international borders," he said. "Habitat is habitat to them and where they can move, they will go."

An issue that both Hart and the study suggest are negatively impacting wildlife is the waste left behind by humans crossing the border.

Copyright 2014 Tucson News Now. All rights reserved.

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