McALLEN, Texas (Border Report) — The Center for Biological Diversity on Wednesday filed a notice of intent to sue Arizona for placing shipping containers along the U.S.-Mexico border, which it says is obstructing jaguar and ocelot migration routes.
The national wildlife nonprofit says it will sue Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey, the Arizona Department of Emergency and Military Affairs, and the Arizona Department of Homeland Security for lining the borderlands with giant shipping containers they say “jeopardize” these species.
“These shipping containers are a shameless publicity stunt that will jeopardize the survival of endangered wildlife,” said Robin Silver, co-founder of the Center for Biological Diversity. “There are 3,700 agents covering the Tucson Sector alone, not to mention helicopters, drones and hundreds of cameras. We’re in an extinction crisis, and it’s reckless to sacrifice a critical wildlife corridor and harm endangered animals so Ducey can score political points.”
The 13-page letter sent to Ducey and leaders of the other two state agencies says the organization will file a civil lawsuit in 60 days unless actions are taken to stop what it calls are violations to the Endangered Species Act.
The shipping containers were placed after Ducey on Aug. 12 issued an executive order to “close the gaps in Arizona’s southern border wall” with Mexico.
The actions are similar to border security measures implemented in Texas under Operation Lone Star by Texas Gov. Greg Abbott.
Ducey ordered the Arizona National Guard to assist in what he calls a “crisis” on the border promulgated by transnational criminal organizations that bring in illegal drugs and undocumented migrants.
“Arizona’s communities are currently dealing with large numbers of foreign nationals who are crossing into the United States illegally and using state and local resources, that are significantly more in demand due to the strain that inflation is placing on our own citizens, creating a nuisance for which the federal government has refused and failed to abate,” Ducey declared in his August executive order.
On Oct. 13, the U.S. Department of Interior Bureau of Reclamation sent a letter to Arizona officials saying 80 shipping containers placed on Bureau of Reclamation lands near the Morelos Dam, and 42 shipping containers put on Reclamation rights-of-way within the exterior boundaries of the Cocopah Indian Tribe’s West Reservation “constitutes a violation of federal law and is a trespass against the United States.”
“That trespass is harming federal lands and resources,” Bureau of Reclamation Regional Director Jacklynn Gould wrote in the Oct. 13 letter to Allen Clark, director of the Arizona Department of Emergency and Military Affairs, and Tim Roemer, director of the state’s Department of Homeland Security.
Both directors also are named in the letter Wednesday by the Center for Diversity threatening a civil lawsuit.
Left: A male jaguar is photographed by motion-detection wildlife cameras in the Santa Rita Mountains in Arizona on April 30, 2021, as part of a Citizen Science jaguar monitoring project conducted by the University of Arizona and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Photo Courtesy of the University of Arizona and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service); while an ocelot is seen right. (Getty Images File Photo)
The Center says the state’s intention to place shipping containers on the Coronado National Forest west of the Huachuca Mountains “is an established and critical movement corridor for federally listed and protected jaguars and ocelots,” according to the letter sent Wednesday. “Further deployment of your shipping containers along the Border will obstruct the movement of and will prevent the recovery of endangered jaguar and ocelot.”
On Wednesday, Ducey tweeted a photo of shipping containers and wrote: “Arizonans cannot — and will not — wait for federal bureaucrats to do their job and secure the border. We’re taking action now.”