An eye in the sky

Who, or what, crosses over to the United States? The Border Patrol operates this blimp out of Sierra Vista, less than twenty miles from Mexico. Its purpose is officially radar surveillance – the detection of low-flying aircraft smuggling drugs and other cargo. But imagine if the blimp also provided infrared (heat-sensitive) images. It would surely find people making their way across the border, but would it also find animals? We have a poor understanding of animal migration in this region, informed mostly by tracking and remote motion-triggered cameras, but we do know that the border wall has been a major obstacle to animal movement. Ranges and habitat do not naturally follow international borders. This has created large negative changes in the populations of many species. Genetic diversity decreases, increasing the risk of extinction and the loss of adaptive potential.

Perhaps a different blimp could learn more. Perhaps a different allocation of resources might strike a better balance between the safety of our country, human rights, and the integrity of our natural environment.

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