Welfare of pronghorn still trumps border enforcement

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As I reported back in February, the Interior Department has been using a 1964 environmental law to block the Border Patrol from building communications towers along the southwestern border in Arizona. The towers are part of a virtual fence that would be used to intercept illegal immigrants, drug smugglers and human traffickers who are increasingly using protected federal wilderness areas to sneak over the border.

Five months later, nothing’s changed.

“The Department of Homeland Security is still fighting to install just one communications tower in the [Cabeza Prieta National Wildlife] Refuge, but continues to be met by objections from environmentalists,” Fox News reports.  The refuge is one of several federal parks that have posted signs warning visitors of danger from the illegal border traffic.

But Interior is more worried about the antelopes than the people.

“The pronghorn can literally shut down production,” a Republican aide on the House Natural Resources Committee was quoted as saying. “It could literally stop a project … in its tracks.”

Fox says it obtained a 2008 letter from the Fish and Wildlife Service rejecting the Border Patrol’s plan to install seven towers in the refuge because environmentalists claimed the “human presence”needed to build and maintain them could lead to the extinction of the Sonoran pronghorn.

But Fish and Wildlife officials don’t seem to be a bit concerned about the “human presence” of thousands of border crossers who, according to the agency’s own 2007 memo, leave 500 tons of trash in the endangered antelope’s habitat every year.

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