Scientist: Trump’s border wall could harm environment

Scientist: Trump’s border wall could harm environment
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Donald TrumpDonald John TrumpGrassley: Dems 'withheld information' on new Kavanaugh allegation Health advocates decry funding transfer over migrant children Groups plan mass walkout in support of Kavanaugh accuser MORE's proposed border wall could threaten the survival of endangered species and disturb fragile ecosystems in the southwestern U.S. and northern Mexico, according to a top scientist.
 
“We know how important the natural movement of wildlife is for the persistence of many species,” Clinton Epps, a wildlife biologist at Oregon State University, told scientific journal Nature
 
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Building a wall “would be a huge loss,” Epps added.
 
Trump has centered his presidential campaign around his proposal to build a wall on the U.S.-Mexico border paid for by Mexico. Trump rallies regularly feature chants of "build the wall" and even supporters in wall costumes
 
While the proposal has helped Trump rally potential voters, support for physical barriers on the Mexican border has actually decreased since Trump announced his candidacy in June 2015.
 
Scientists say current border infrastructure — including nearly 700 miles of fencing built during George W. Bush’s presidency — is likely already having an adverse effect on native species. But deeper studies have been rendered impossible by the man-made threats in the area.
 
“It’s easy to ask why the research hasn’t been done, but that ignores the fact that the border is a war zone,” Sergio Avila-Villegas, a conservation scientist from the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum, told Nature. 
 
“I had to stop my field work because of law enforcement and the ­Minutemen.”
 
The Department of Homeland Security acknowledged the environmental risks of a physical barrier as far back as 2008 but argued that increased security was a valid trade-off.
 
The design for the fencing in some areas included "cat holes" intended for endangered species like the ocelot to freely cross the wall, but it is unclear whether ocelots have ever used the holes. 
 
Trump is already overwhelmingly unpopular with Hispanic voters, and the environmental concerns about his border wall proposal won’t help the GOP presidential nominee’s case.
 
Hispanics are significantly more likely than other demographic groups to say the United States should do everything in its power to protect the environment, according to a Pew Research Center study in February.