Land owners concerned that border wall threatens wildlife

LAREDO, TX (KGNS) - After the Trump Administration waives environmental regulations to fast track 69 miles of border fence construction, many have spoken out about the action.

However, south Texas land owner who is against the wall says this is affecting the environment and wildlife.

The Department of Homeland Security issued a waiver of "certain laws, regulations and other legal requirements" to fast track construction of the border.

Although border security is necessary, there are a number of landowners near the riverbanks who say the president's promised wall will not only affect them, but animals who live in the area.

As wall construction goes up from California to Texas, several areas in the lone star state are getting "surveyed" to see where it can go up.

However, construction has began in other parts of south Texas, which is where a little owlet was found this week.

"A border wall bulldozer operator knocked down a tree that had a nest in it," explains Elsa Hull, a resident of San Ygnacio. "After being warned, he was fully aware there was a nest in the tree. Thankfully a good samaritan went by and saw this little baby owl on the ground. He picked it up and took it as far as Zapata. This border wall construction was going on near Roma and that's where the baby owl was found."

Recently, DHS has expedited the construction of approximately 69 miles of new border wall system within the U.S. Border Patrol's Laredo sector in Webb and Zapata counties.

Elsa Hull, who has lived near San Ygnacio for the past 20 years, has been vocal against the announcement of the construction.

"The death and destruction that go along with the construction of this wall, the damage to the ecosystem all will be for nothing. Because people will realize that drugs will still be coming in and nothing will be solved with this wall. I fear people will realize this too late."

She says this owlet displaced from his home is just an example of the issues that arise with the construction.

"It's so sad because with all this going on you know this is not the only animal affected by this construction."

Hull and others have reached out to state and federal officials like Congressman Henry Cuellar.

"You still got to protect the environment, you still got to protect wildlife," said Cuellar. "This is why I've been able to add language, the only one that's done this who is part of appropriations."

In the meantime, Hull and other land owners will continue to fight to stop the wall construction and hope for a change in administration come November.

Cuellar says he will continue to work on a spending bill for next year that has strong border security, including additional personnel, equipment, new technology, and no funding for a wall.

The first of many hearings against landowners is scheduled this week in federal court.

The suit was filed by the federal government against several landowners who refused to allow them to survey their land for the possible construction of the border wall.