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Friday, March 24, 2017

Living with Javelina!

Living with Javelina!
If you have had issues with pack rats - there is a good chance you have had issues with javelina!

Pack rats and javelina are both natural inhabitants of our beautiful Sonoran desert and both can be pests.

Prevention 1st!
Like pack rats - prevention goes a long way.

Limit food sources - if you provide a good food source, they will come - again & again!
  • Never leave food out for javelina. Feeding javelina can cause them to lose their natural fear of people, creating a problem for the entire neighborhood.
  • Don't use quail blocks where javelina can get to them
  • Secure any outside trash cans so they cannot be pushed over and do not put out the trash the night before pick up.
  • Consider javelina resistant plants in exposed areas. The U of A publishes a list you can find here.
  • Keep your garage closed. I had three javelina in my garage destroy a bag of dog food in the middle of the day!
Limit water - unlike pack rats, javelina must have a water source within their range.
  • Avoid having fountains and ponds in areas accessible to javelina.
  • Avoid over watering and keep your irrigation system in good repair. Javelina LOVE mud!  Drip emitters should be buried underground with only a "pigtail" sticking out above the surface. This is a great tip for squirrels, skunks and pack rats too - all of which will bite off an exposed emitter causing a big leak the next time the system turns on. 
Limit shade - when homes are built in the desert, the environment changes. There will be more vegetation due to runoff from streets, roofs, patios and driveway. Keeping things natural actually takes work!
  • Create a "buffer-zone" around your home where you trim and thin excess vegetation to maintain a more open and natural environment.
  • Pay special attention to low hanging branches. Avoid umbrella-like canopies so the sun can get to the ground. 
The Occasional Javelina
If you encounter javelina on a walk or in your yard just follow some basic commonsense steps and enjoy their presence.

Do's & don'ts
  • Never approach; enjoy from a distance. Javelina have very poor eye sight and are easily startled.  
  • If you turn the corner and find yourself too close for comfort by accident just back away slowly.
  • If the javelina is coming in your direction, or is an an area you where you need to go, stand still and make a loud noise by clapping your hands and shouting. In almost all cases, once the javelina knows you are there it will go away in another direction. If the javelina has young, it may make some defensive moves and noises, just to let you know to keep your distance before it leaves the area.
  • NEVER walk a dog without a leash, no matter how well trained,  in an area where javelina may be present. Javelina have a great sense of smell and can smell a dog from a distance.  Coyotes are an enemy of javelina and any dog nearby can trigger an aggressive defensive response that can include charging, noise making and teeth clacking. Your dog may see this as a threat (or challenge) and respond in kind.  Javelina can be amazingly fast and the dog will come out for the worse and may be killed in a fight. If you encounter a javelina with a dog - immediately withdraw from the area. 
The Pesky Javelina
Sometimes, in spite of your best efforts, you may encounter javelina that become a reoccurring problem. What to do then? 

Two words - Behavior Modification!

Javelina are creatures of habit and can be trained to avoid an area with some simple procedures.  You just need to use their natural behavior against them.

Javelina do not like to be startled or surprised - so from a safe distance - startle and surprise them.  Good techniques - a loud cap gun or air horn.  A strong shot from a garden hose works too. You can even get a motion activated device that will send out a quick blast of water when an animal is detected in the protected zone. Here is a link to one made by Hav-a-hart.

Using a single wire charged by an electric fence transformer mounted about 8" off the ground is more extreme, but can be very effective too. 

Javelina have an excellent sense of smell - make that shot of water even more unpleasant by using a "super-soaker" type squirt gun with  some diluted (10%) vinegar or ammonia.  Do not spray javelina in the eyes, since even a diluted spray could cause damage.  Use the type of squirt gun that shoots 30-40' so you can maintain a safe distance.

You can also sprinkle some ammonia on the ground in areas javelina keep frequenting.

The key to effective behavior modification is consistency.  Once you start you have to stick to it until the javelina "learn" to avoid the area.  Inconsistent efforts may have the opposite effect and the javelina will just learn to ignore your attempts.

For more information about Javelina check out this link from Arizona Game & Fish.

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Thank you for taking the time to share your thoughts. -Kris