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Planned border wall construction worries environmental groups

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TUCSON - The Pentagon announced Thursday it is planning to divert $3.8 billion of defense funding for border wall construction in Arizona, New Mexico and California.

Environmentalist Myles Traphagen said this move will be a devastating blow to wildlife across the western United States.

"I was nauseous for about 30 minutes because I instinctively knew this was going to have a huge impact among wildlife," he said.

Traphagen is the Borderlands Program Coordinator for the non-profit Wildlands Network. The environmental group was started in Tucson 25 years ago.

He is staunchly opposed to a proposed 177 miles of border wall construction.  

"It's the worst Valentine's gift you can get because there's definitely no love in that," Traphagen said. "This is going to have a huge effect on all wildlife in Arizona and possibly even the continent because they're walling off the Rio Grande to the Pacific Ocean in San Diego."

Traphagen argues black bears, deer, mountain lions and other wildlife are all at risk. Traphagen tells News 4 Tucson this new construction could be catastrophic for the jaguar in Arizona.

"The jaguar has been dispersing into Arizona for the last 20 years as most of us in Tucson know," he said. "If they cut off these corridors they won't have the opportunity to disperse into the U.S. As far as jaguar recovery, we're not going to see that if these border walls are completed."

News 4 Tucson reached out Customs and Border Protection for comment and we have not yet heard back.

The American Civil Liberties Union said Friday it will be back in court to try and stop what it calls this unauthorized transfer of military funding.

Eric Fink

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