Fences and endangered species

Feral pigs and invasive plant species have pushed hundreds of native Hawaiian species to the brink of extinction. But now several endemic and endangered species that only exist in the 80-acre Kanaele Bog have a new protector: a 6,552-foot, $149,000 fence built by the Nature Conservancy of Hawai'i.

Species that are known to exist only in the bog include bog violets, the haha'aiakamanu flower, and carnivorous sundew plants.

The fence -- along with regular human monitoring and weeding -- will help these species to bounce back after years of being squeezed out by invasive species.

In other "fences vs. endangered species" news, recent studies found that 35-40% of all lesser prairie-chicken mortalities in New Mexico and Oklahoma were caused by collisions with barbed-wire fences. But researchers have found an inexpensive solution: adding three-inch-long vinyl markers on the fences makes them more visible, which has helped to reduce these accidental deaths and improve nesting success for the endangered species.

Of course, not all fences are good news for endangered species. Many experts believe the security fence between the U.S. and Mexico will doom several species that normally migrate over the border between the two nations. But sadly, the U.S. Supreme Court last week refused to hear a case arguing that Homeland Security's bypassing of environmental laws to build the fence is unconstitutional. Luckily, a few more legal cases against the fence are still pending. We'll just have to wait and see how they pan out.

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