After receiving reports of javelina sightings possibly related to people feeding wildlife in Green Valley recently, the Arizona Game and Fish Department wants to remind residents that feeding wildlife is not only illegal but can also compromise the safety of people and pets.
When the peccaries come into contact with people, they can become aggressive, especially if they are startled.
"Javelina occasionally bite people, and such incidents are almost always associated with people providing the javelina with food. They can inflict a serious wound," said Raul Vega, a regional supervisor with Game and Fish in Tucson.
Javelinas can also be a threat to dogs, which they mistake for coyotes, one of their predators, said Mark Hart, a spokesman for the department.
Attracting javelinas to your yard can also open the door for other unwanted wildlife.
"People need to remember also that javelina are a prey species for mountain lions, so if you have javelina congregating in an area, you could be unknowingly attracting mountain lions," he said.
In December 2011, a Tucson woman became the first person in Pima County to be convicted of illegally feeding wildlife after Game and Fish officials repeatedly asked her to stop leaving birdseed on the ground where it could be eaten by javelinas.
When Game and Fish receives a report about someone possibly feeding wildlife, officials will contact the person twice to educate him or her about how to avoid attracting wildlife to the yard. The third time contact is made, officials will issue a citation.
Feeding animals human food isn't in the best interest of the animals, as it affects their regular diets, Hart said.
"It's not good for wildlife to become habituated to human food," Hart said. "They need to eat those things that naturally occur in the field."
Did You Know?
With the exception of birds and tree squirrels, feeding wild animals is prohibited in Pima County. The law went into effect in 2006.
Source: Star news archives
To keep wildlife away from your yard, try to remove access to things that could be attracting unwanted animals, including:
• Birdseed. Make sure to feed birds in an enclosed yard, preferably with a feeder and a tray to prevent seed from falling on the ground. Place seed blocks in an enclosed area or on a raised platform.
• Water sources, including dog dishes, ponds and fountains.
• Vegetation, including flowering or non-native plants and fruit that has fallen from trees.
• Pet food.
• Crawl spaces. Animals can seek shelter in unsecured crawl spaces under homes.
To report someone for feeding wildlife, call the Operation Game Thief hotline at 1-800-352-0700.
Contact reporter Veronica Cruz at firstname.lastname@example.org or 573-4224.