Border Fence

Jaguars need the freedom to roam across the US-Mexico border. Most jaguars that belong to the highly endangered jaguar population of  the U.S. Southwest and northern Mexico survive in Mexico. Jaguars will not be able to naturally re-build their numbers on the U.S. size of the border with impenetrable fencing between the two countries. Jaguars in the U.S. are at risk of being completely isolated from other jaguars in Mexico.

UPDATE (Spring 2011)

Extent of the Fencing

The U.S. government by spring 2010 had in place about 85 miles of pedestrian fencing capable of blocking jaguar travel between Arizona’s southeast border and Mexico. That’s about 46% of the 185 miles of terrain that is of vital importance as a broad movement corridor for jaguars, between the Baboquivari Mountains on the west to Pelloncillo Mountains on the east (see borderlands google map).  A map provided to us by the U.S. Customs and Border Protection agency  showed the extent of fencing as of July 2009.  In late 2010, we noticed over 5 miles of additional pedestrian fencing from the San Pedro River to the Coronado National Monument.  It now appears that nearly 50% (at least) of the potential jaguar crossing areas are entirely blocked by pedestrian fencing.

Blockage of Habitat Linkages for Jaguar

We have identified six areas, or “habitat linkages,” most likely to be used by jaguars for moving between the U.S. and Mexico (see border area map).  Here is our assessment of how high pedestrian fencing effects each of them: Altar Valley/Baboquivari-Mexico Linkage: substantially blocked; Tumacacori Highlands-Mexico Linkage: minimally blocked; San Pedro Valley-Mexico Linkage:  almost entirely blocked; Huachuca Mountains-Mexico Linkage: partially blocked; Chiricahua Mountains-Mexico Linkage: partially blocked; Peloncillo Mountains-Mexico Linkage: no fencing.

Things Could Get Worse

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security apparently has no plans for significantly increasing the extent of pedestrian fencing along the Arizona-Mexico border.  Congress did consider an appropriations bill amendment that would force construction of a huge pedestrian fence across the entire 700 miles of our border with Mexico! (For more on this story check out this  plea from the Houston Audubon Society). Fortunately, in October 2009, the pedestrian fence provision was stripped from the Department of Homeland Security spending bill. See: As of spring 2011, the State of Arizona was soliciting private funding to complete the fence along the entire length of its border with Mexico.

Let President Obama Hear from you!

Please join us in pushing for new border policies that safeguard the jaguar and other wildlife, while at the same time providing realistic border security.

We wrote to the US Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano urging that, in lieu of huge fences, the Obama Administration establishes with Mexico a bi-national wildlife conservation area along the Arizona/New Mexico/Mexico border. This could usher in a new era of cooperation and problem-solving between our two countries, create new opportunities for law enforcement and improved security on both sides of the border, demonstrate American leadership and creativity, and contribute immensely to the conservation of wildlife and natural ecosystems in one of the richest ecological regional of the world.  napolitano_letter1-30-09.

We encourage you to contact the White House, letting President Obama know we need change in border fence policy! The solution is to stop building hugh fences that block jaguars and other wildlife, begin taking down fencing in key habitat areas, and address problems of illegal border crossing by people through technologies and policies that do not harm America’s wildlife.

If you prefer, you can send a letter by regular mail (President Barack Obama, The White House, 1600 Pennsylvania Ave NW, Washington, DC 20500) or a message by by fax (202) 456-2461.  You can also send a quick message by phone to President Obama by dialing (202) 456-1111.  Be sure to have your voice heard!

The huge metal fence along the US-Mexico border near the National Park Service's Coronado National Memorial, Arizona. Photo by Matt Clark.

The huge metal fence along the US-Mexico border near the National Park Service's Coronado National Memorial, Arizona. Photo by Matt Clark.

Note:  The following is older material originally posted on this page...

Jaguar Habitat Campaign Challenges Border Fence

In 2008, we contacted Michael Chertoff, then-Secretary of the US Department of Homeland Security, with recommendations for protecting critical movement corridors for the jaguar, and his reply included some peculiar logic…

Secretary Michael Chertoff used the authority provided by Congress last year to waive environmental laws to push ahead with construction.

We also contacted the US Customs and Border Protection office with recommendations for safeguarding jaguars and other wildlife in the borderlands area:

us-customs_letter6-30-086       us-customs-email-6-26-08-information-request

The agency responded to our comments with only a brief reference to what are clearly disappointing planning documents.  As for the jaguar, its “Biological Resources Plan” said:

“The presence of planned tactical infrastructure would result in fragmentation of jaguar habitat and could impede movement of jaguars across the border. Because jaguars in Arizona are believed to be part of a population in northern Mexico, preventing jaguar movement and exchange between the U.S. and Mexico would likely have deleterious effects on jaguars, particularly those in Arizona. Habitat fragmentation would reduce the ability of the jaguar to continue to enter the United States from its core population in northern Mexico, but will not have a significant effect on the survival and recovery of the species.”

“Could” impede? Would “likely” have deleterious effects? “Would not have ” a significant effect? Talk about the proverbial ostrich with head in sand!

U.S. Congressman Raul Grijalva of Arizona has a bill called the Borderlands Conservation and Security Act that would repeal DHS’s authority to waive health and environmental laws in setting up border protections.

More than a dozen U.S. representatives, including Bennie Thompson of Mississippi, chairman of the Homeland Security Committee, have said they support a lawsuit filed in April by two environmental groups – the Sierra Club and Defenders of Wildlife – that challenges Chertoff’s waiver.

Make your voice heard now, as time is running out!

Contact (best by priority mail):

Secretary Michael Chertoff
U.S. Department of Homeland Security
Washington, DC 20528

Let Mr. Chertoff know of your strong opposition to pedestrian fencing along the AZ/NM border with Mexican border because of the great harm it will cause to the endangered jaguar and other wildlife. Such fencing should be absolutely avoided near the following areas of primary jaguar habitat:

In Arizona –

The Baboquivari Mountains
Cumero Mountain to the Pajarito Mountains
The Pajarito Mountains to the Huachuca Mountains
The San Pedro River area
Perilla Mountain/Chiricahua Mountains to the Peloncillo Mountains

In New Mexico  –

The Peloncillo Mountains to the Alamo Hueco Mountains (the “Boot Heel” area)

Also, contact the Governor of Arizona ( and the Governor of New Mexico ( with this same information asking that the Arizona Game and Fish Department and the New Mexico Department of Game and Fish aggressively work with the US Department of Homeland Security to use alternative measures for border security (vehicle barriers, surveillance technology combined with traditional border patrol, etc.) in these important areas of jaguar habitat.

You may also want to contact:

Congressman Bennie G. Thompson, Chair
U.S. House of Representatives
Committee on Homeland Security
176 Ford House Office Building
Washington, DC 20515

Senator Joeseph I. Lieberman, Chair
US Senate
Committee on Homeland Security
340 Dirksen Senate Office Building
Washington, DC 20510

Senator Barack Obama (, Member, Senate Committee on Homeland Security

Here are the letters we have sent to the US Department of Homeland Security regarding the border fence: chertoff_letter6-27-08



8 Responses to “Border Fence”

  1. Up-Against-A Wall « Says:

    […] For the jaguar it is a nightmare. The border fence could isolate the few animals that currently live along the US-Mexico borderlands and prevent jaguar population recovery. Contact decisionmakers. […]

  2. P Shel Says:

    if they stop the fence how will we keep out illegal aliens that are taking out jobs? As for “cooperation” with Mexico it won’t happen they never have cooperated.

  3. Tony P Says:

    If employers stop hiring unauthorized workers from abroad then there’s little reason to illegally cross the border, a dangerous endeavor with or without the fence.

  4. Marshall Geyser Says:

    As a whole I do not make comments on blogs, but I have to mention that this post really forced me to do so. Really nice post

  5. Robert Hodnett Says:

    Jaguar rights – yes
    U S citizens rights – no

    Someone’s values are warped.

    • jaguarhabitatusa Says:

      Thanks, Robert, for your opinion. Indeed, many worthy causes there are. Many efforts are being made to safeguard citizen rights, my own personal ones included. But there are precious few to protect jaguars and other wildlife, thus the Jaguar Campaign. Not warped values, but broad ones.

  6. Bill Tillman Says:

    I favor jaguar development in the Baboquivari’s

    • jaguarhabitatusa Says:

      That’s some great habitat, and part of Macho B’s old home range. The big cats are such great roamers that the whole set of mountain ranges in southern Arizona are important to them.

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