Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Sonoran Pronghorn rising, but DHS still big threat

Sonoran Pronghorn, the fast ghost of the desert.

AJO AZ -- The endangered Sonoran Pronghorn is having a better year, with an estimated population in Arizona at 124 animals, up from just 21 a few years ago.

Much of the credit for the improvement goes to staff at the Cabeza Prieta National Wildlife Refuge for working hard for pronghorn, and keeping border walls off the refuge, although border activity is still a major threat to pronghorn.

Jim Atkinson of the US Fish and Wildlife Service refuge staff said extended droughts in the pronghorn habitat between Yuma and Ajo, and Border Patrol-related activity in pursuit of illegal immigrants on the Cabeza Prieta refuge and through the Barry M. Goldwater Range "are probably the two biggest existing threats to the herd."

The Bush-Cheney Dept. of Homeland Security has shown only callous and reckless disregard for America's southwestern landscapes, other agencies and borderlands communities. Walls do not work, except to block wildlife, and Border Patrol agents should stop driving off-road across fragile desert wilderness in humvees chasing down pedestrian migrants.

We cannot control droughts, but we can control the behavior of our federal agencies. As Obama's DHS Secretary, AZ Gov. Janet Napolitano should help borderlands wildlife and communities, by taking swift action to more responsibly and smartly focus her agencies on reducing their harmful environmental impacts as they enforce the law.

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