The Department of Homeland Security announced last week that it will waive many public health and environmental laws to fast-track border wall construction in remote, mountainous areas of California, Texas and Arizona. The new sections of the border wall will block the remaining corridors that connect jaguars from the U.S. to Sonora, Mexico. The wall will also harm more than 90 other threatened and endangered species.

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“The new border walls will mean the end of jaguar recovery in the United States,” Randy Serraglio, a conservation advocate at the Center for Biological Diversity, said. “This tragedy’s all the more heartbreaking because walling off these beautiful wildlands is completely unnecessary and futile. It has nothing to do with border security and everything to do to with Trump’s racist campaign promise.”

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map of jaguar corridors between the U.S. and Mexico

Jaguars are shy animals that mostly move around at night over highland trails. Conservationists worry that blocking border access will halt the jaguars’ ability to repopulate the Peloncillo Mountains east of Douglas, Arizona and that jaguars fleeing human encroachment in northern Mexico will have nowhere to go.

Other threatened, endangered and rare species that call the border region home include the lesser long-nosed bat, Sonoran pronghorn, Mexican gray wolf, ocelot and the cactus ferruginous pygmy owl. The more than 650 miles of barriers currently blocking the border disrupt animal migration, cause flooding and decimate these animals’ fragile ecosystems.

Jaguars are found from the southwestern U.S. down to south-central Argentina. This mammal is the most powerful and largest cat in the western hemisphere and one of four big cats of the Panthera genus. The other three are lions, leopards and tigers.

“Jaguars are a key part of the stunningly diverse web of life in the borderlands that will fall apart if these walls are built,” Serraglio said. “The crisis of runaway extinction is devastating wildlife and wild places all over our planet. Trump’s border wall is pouring gas on that fire, and we’ll continue to fight it every step of the way.”

The Center for Biological Diversity has helped launch a campaign to oppose the border wall. Individuals can sign the nonprofit conservation organization’s pledge to oppose the wall here.

+ Center for Biological Diversity

Images via Center for Biological Diversity and Pixabay