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Mexico Program

Wildlands Network launched its Mexico Program in 2015 to expand the visionary Western Wildway into the Northern Sierra Madre Occidental. Our staff in Sonora collaborates with Mexican conservation organizations, government agencies, academic institutions, and concerned citizens to advocate for threatened wildlands and wildlife in northern Mexico, and to improve wildlife connectivity between Sonora and Arizona. We are also raising awareness in the U.S. about the unique challenges to achieving landscape-level conservation in Mexico.

The Mexico-U.S. borderlands of the Western Wildway, also showing the Sky Islands.

Our achievements in northern Mexico include:

Thick-billed parrot. Photo: Noel Snyder
  • Protecting endangered thick-billed parrots in the northern Sierra Madre mountains by buying-out timber rights inside Ejido Cebadillas, the parrots’ largest nesting ground. We are currently designing a camera-trap project to help our partner on this project, Pronatura Noroeste, better document other wildlife in this area—including cougars and jaguars.
  • Successfully advocating for the expansion of the 24,400-hectare Northern Jaguar Reserve in northeastern Sonora, co-managed by Naturalia and the Northern Jaguar Project.
  • Teaming up with the Desert Landscape Conservation Cooperative to advance a bi-national plan for climate adaptation that includes wildlife corridors in the Sky Islands region and the grasslands of Chihuahua.
  • Launching our Borderlands Campaign to enhance protections in 3 critical core areas along the Mexico-U.S. borderlands region.

Mitigating Highway 2 for Wildlife Connectivity

Mexico’s Highway 2 closely parallels the U.S.-Mexico border and spans 1,219 miles (1,962 kilometers) from Tijuana in Baja, California, to Lauro Villar in Tamaulipas.

The western section of Highway 2 (from Ímuris, Sonora to Janos, Chihuahua) crosses the Sky Islands region—named after its numerous small mountain ranges surrounded by a sea of grasslands and desert. The Sky Islands are home to an extraordinary array of wildlife, from striped skunks and Mexican wolves to black bears and jaguars.

Highway 2 divides the habitats of these and other wide-ranging animals that may be reluctant to traverse such a formidable barrier. Animals attempting to cross the highway in search of food or mates are at grave risk of being struck by motorists: research conducted by Sky Island Alliance and Wildlands Network indicates that as many as 2,000 vertebrates are killed annually on this road in wildlife-vehicle collisions. Wildlife-vehicle collisions are very dangerous (and costly) for people, too.

13 people, informally dressed, standing beneath a bridge, with desert mountains in the background
Mexican transportation authorities, wildlife advocates, and Arizona officials tour a wildlife crossing structure on Oracle Road in Tucson, Arizona, linking the Catalina Mountains to the Rincon Mountains (in the background). Photo: Rob Ament

Wildlands Network initiated and leads the Wildlife Linkages Binational Partnership to reduce the number of wildlife-vehicle collisions on Highway 2 and to mitigate the effects of recent highway expansions. We are negotiating with Mexico’s Secretariat of Communications and Transportation for the construction of wildlife underpasses and overpasses at high-risk locations along the highway so that animals can cross safely and roam free.

In 2016, we coordinated a trip for Mexican transportation authorities to visit wildlife crossing structures north of Tucson and potential mitigation sites along Highway 2 in Sonora. Your support will help us continue our important work along Highway 2 and elsewhere in the borderlands region, where habitat connectivity is increasingly threatened by political ambitions to further divide the landscape.

Contact

To learn more about the Mexico Program, please contact Juan Carlos Bravo, juancarlos@wildlandsnetwork.org, +521 6621 87 38 10.

Colorful cartoon with raccoon saying to wolf, "You are aware that your recovery area ends on this side of the river, right?
Credit: Juan Carlos Bravo