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Evaluating border security on the US-Canada border

Photo: Sinclair Broadcast Group

WASHINGTON (Sinclair Broadcast Group) - Canada’s border is considered the longest and busiest land boundary on earth, and this year, the number of people caught illegally crossing it has increased.

The United States’ northern border with Canada spans some of the most beautiful and unforgiving landscape in the country

Zack Crosson is the man in charge more than 300 miles of it. Ranging from the North Cascades National Park in Washington state, across Idaho to Glacier National Park in Montana.

“So, there are spots you can get right up to the cut on the border and then there are places that’ll take you days to get there, if it’s accessible at all, some of it’s up and down ridges and mountain faces, cliff faces,” Crosson said.

Those challenges make his agents especially versatile. They patrol on dirt roads, boats, by foot, snowmobile, mountain bikes and horseback along remote ridgelines.

Horses like Starsky and Zeus, both of whom started their lives as wild mustangs, allow them to haul cameras and sensors deep into the woods and through wilderness areas where vehicles aren’t allowed.

In Washington, it’s nearly four thousand miles of border to Maine, much of it rugged, remote, but still with the need to be secure. A clearing of trees and brush that runs along the northern border is often called a “slash.”

Agent Bill Kingsford has to know every nook and cranny and back road of this region. Some of these areas have full fences and barbed wire but most are wide-open.

“That’s Canada, so as you can see, there’s really no fence over here,” Kingsford said. “we need to make sure we’re out here looking at these areas for anybody coming in illegally.”

Because of the naturally difficult terrain, they don’t see many attempted crossings on foot like the southern border. More often it’s drugs like heroin, meth, Ecstasy dropped from aircraft.

Agents missions to protect against terrorism, drugs, and illegal crossings might be the same as the southern border. But it’s a different ballgame on the northern border as they’re forced to find fewer needles in a much larger haystack.

"You know, they’re good. They’re very good at what they’re doing – and as are we. The game of cat and mouse has been going on since 1924 and it’s not going to stop tomorrow,” Crosson said.

Agents have been working this border since 1924 when the U.S. Border Patrol was founded. All these years later, despite an intense focus on the southern border, it’s worth noting the only known terrorists to be apprehended coming overland into America came from the north.

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