A herd of aggressive javelinas, some of which have chased and attacked people in a Tucson neighborhood, will be “lethally removed,” state wildlife officials said Tuesday.
“One or more professional wildlife removal experts will use a long rifle equipped with a silencer to kill the javelinas” in the coming week, said Mark Hart, spokesman for the Arizona Game and Fish Department. “It will be done there in the neighborhood.”
“It’s very sad. It’s not something we ever want to do,” Hart said of the plan to kill eight to 12 javelinas in a neighborhood southeast of Wilmot Road and Speedway. “But these animals have become quite aggressive, and relocation is not a good option.”
Hart said relocating the javelinas to a wilderness area would be likely to put their survival in jeopardy. One reason is that the animals are accustomed to consuming garbage in an urban area and might not adapt to finding food sources in a wild environment.
“But the real issue is fragmentation of the herd,” Hart said. “Javelinas are herd animals, and if you relocate them the herd will get fragmented and become more vulnerable to predators.”
Hart said residents of the neighborhood have been notified that marksmen will be stalking and shooting javelinas there. Tucson police also are being notified of the shooting plans, he said.
He declined to say exactly when the removals would take place, or if they have already begun.
“We have notified people in that community, but we don’t want onlookers or spectators there because of safety reasons,” Hart said.
He said state officials determined that killing the javelinas was necessary after repeated incidents, including an attack on a woman who was injured by javelinas while walking her dog in the neighborhood last week.
“That was not an isolated incident with this woman,” Hart said. “People have been chased by javelinas there and have had to use items like canes to fight them off. If javelinas attack a human being once, they could do so again.”
Steve Stayton, a neighborhood resident , said he had hoped they could be relocated but that something needed to be done because the javelinas “have become overly aggressive in recent months.”
“They have charged several people and are not afraid of people at all,” Stayton said. “A couple of residents have witnessed two of the large boars fighting with each other near their homes. The concern is that someone will be attacked again and badly injured again.”
Stayton described his own encounters with the javelinas: “Twice when I confronted them at night I was unable to scare them away by acting aggressively towards them. Not being stupid, I kept my distance.”
Hart said the wildlife removal officers are from a wildlife services division of the U.S. Department of Agriculture in Phoenix. They will be equipped with night-vision goggles to aid in spotting javelinas.
Wildlife officers have conducted previous lethal removals of javelinas and other animals around the state, Hart said.
“There have been bears put down in the Tucson area,” he said, “but there hasn’t been a lethal removal of javelinas in the Tucson area in at least the past five years that I’m aware of.”