Weekend Cat Blogging 106: Unpopular Border Wall endangers Ocelots

Luna and I would like to use Weekend Cat Blogging #106 to warn our readers and friends about the dangers of a proposed border fence/wall through the Rio Grande Valley in Southwest Texas.

As the truck rounds a bend near the greenish-brown Rio Grande, a bobcat scampers ahead, disappearing into the lush subtropical foliage. Lizards dart about. A tortoise lazes in the sun. Somewhere in the forest, well-camouflaged by evolution, are ocelots and jaguarundi, both of them endangered species of cats.
These are some of the natural wonders in the Rio Grande Valley that Brown and other wildlife enthusiasts fear could be spoiled by the fences and adjacent roads the U.S. government plans to erect along the Mexican border to keep out illegal immigrants and smugglers.

We featured the Texas ocelot (a subspecies) in a previous WCB post on endangered wild cats.

Seeing a photo of an ocelot, it's easy to forget that they are wild cats and not some exotic breed. But they are wild cats, who are endangered. And they are not the only ones endangered by this misguided plan. The Rio Grande Valley is a success story of ecological restoration that could be destroyed by the Homeland Security border-fence plan. Usually, there would be an ecological review of such plans, but it seems Homeland Security can simply waive that requirement.

And if wild cats and unique ecology, the local communities, including the cities of Laredo and McAllen and towns in between are all against it. They have lived with their neighbors across the river for a long time and the communities on both sides of the border are intertwined, socially and economically. And people there are pretty upset about this, as illustrated in this Houston Press article:

They don't like the fact that Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff can circumvent the same federal environmental studies they would have to undergo if they wanted to put in a road or a bridge. He has specially granted waiver powers, and if he wants a fence, he gets one ? no matter how many dead birds and ocelots are left behind to clean up.

They can't stomach the representatives they've met in the Department of Homeland Security, from Chertoff on down, who seem to them to be unreasonable, untrustworthy creatures, arrogant in manner and not always inclined to truthfulness.

Most of all, Allen and others want to know why the same federal government ? the one that for years ignored their repeated requests for an interstate (“We're the only area with 1 million population that doesn't have an interstate”), $10 million to repair their levees (“We'll be like New Orleans when Katrina hit) and money to help them improve their public schools ? all of a sudden has untold millions of dollars to plunk down on a fence that none of them want.

And now the people and wild cats of the Rio Grande Valley find themselves caught in the middle of the big immigration debate, indeed it was coming home on the radio last night that we heard this story.

We at CatSynth have some strong opinions about the immigration issue, but we'll save some of that for later – actually, that photo on the NPR article is begging for some LolCat treatment. For WCB, we simply want to let our readers know about the wild cats and people endangered by this plan. We urge U.S. readers, and especially Texas readers, to contact their representatives to try and stop this, or at the very least have it go through the same local and environmental reviews that any other major project would require.

For some non-endangered kitty fun, please go visit the big WCB 106 Roundup hosted by Kate and Puddy at A Byootaful Life. Puddy is having some fun hunting a pencil. We're also finally adding ourselves to the Friday Ark #143 and Carnival of the Cats #169.