Border barrier running through southern Texas TNC reserve impedes wildlife movement, conservationists claim
A line of 18-foot-high steel posts spaced four inches apart flank the entrance of one of the most biodiverse ecosystems in the United States, and one of the most endangered. Bifurcated by the fence is the Nature Conservancy’s Southmost Preserve near Brownsvillle, Tex., whose threatened species include the Southern yellow bat, the Texas tortoise and the ocelot, an endangered cat whose estimated American population is under 50. The only two remaining stands of native sable palms in the United States grow there as well.
The posts are part of a 70-mile “pedestrian barrier” between Falcon Dam and the Gulf of Mexico that was built to deter illegal immigration and drug trafficking. It lies anywhere from hundreds of yards to several miles north of the border. Before construction started in 2009, experts expressed concern about the effects of the fence on so-called wildlife corridors in the Rio Grande Valley. Now they are taking stock of the impacts.