One Small Voice
by Laura McGaffey
Articles originally published in "The Voice in the Desert"

Javelina Rescue in Sunsites
July 2010

I At 7:00 a.m. on, June 7, I saw my neighbor’s dogs barking at a truck parked facing in the wrong direction next to their fence. The presence of the idling truck and its occupants was not normal, so I went to investigate. Next to the truck, resting on the roadway easement was a javelina that periodically lifted its head to look around.

Before I continue this story, let me reassure you that the authorities found no evidence that the animal had rabies.

Back home, I looked in the front of the phone book and then in the various “government” listings to find a non-emergency number for “animal control”, but could not find one. Calling 911, the dispatcher transferred me to the county animal control department. The woman told me they only handle domestic pets and gave me an 800 number for Arizona Game and Fish.

Because of the absence of quickly accessible information in the phone book, I just spent the last two days speaking with several members of Arizona Game and Fish and conducting research. I have listed contact numbers and other important information below.

By 7:30 a.m. that morning, Arizona Game and Fish dispatch had forwarded my name and number to Wildlife Manager John Bacorn. Jim Schmidt of the USDA and Mr. Bacorn both called to let me know they would be on scene as soon as possible. It would take awhile because Jim was coming from the Sierra Vista area and John was coming out on his day off!

By early afternoon, I had spoken with several individuals from the two agencies, and they all repeatedly issued the same order. “Stay away from the animal and leave it alone.”

My husband and I could see the javelina from our front windows. The javelina was lying on the ground in the shade of some trees and the dogs grew accustomed to his presence and let him be. The truck drove off, but they returned every fifteen minutes or so for hours. Each time the truck drove up to the fence, the dogs starting barking and the javelina was disturbed. When the truck left again, the dogs would stop barking and the javelina would lie back down.

I first saw the javelina at 7:00 a.m. It took the authorities until early afternoon to get on scene. So the javelina had been lying in the shade for at least five hours, possibly seven. It had not hurt anyone and we never saw it charge the truck or hear it make “irritated javelina” noises, which are loud and distinctive.

When the authorities were minutes away, I received a call from John Bacorn, to give me an ETA. About ten minutes after I got off the phone, the truck came back around the corner and this time the driver did not just sit and watch the javelina. This time, I watched in horror as he kept driving closer and closer until finally the javelina jumped up and ran down an alley with the truck following. The animal ran into the yard across the alley where several people were present.

When they arrives minutes later, Arizona Game and Fish Wildlife Manager John Bacorn and Jim Schmidt from the USDA tranquilized it, watered it down with our hose because it was overheated, and finally Mr. Bacorn released it into one of several areas with high populations of javelinas. When I spoke with John two days later, he told me he had released it into the wild. Urban Wildlife Specialist, Locana de Souza wrote in an email that, “Often, wildlife will not survive after being relocated. They may not be accepted by resident animals due to territoriality. In addition, they may not be able to find the resources they need to survive in a completely unfamiliar environment, including locations to evade predators. Often wildlife may be hit by cars as they cross roads trying to return to their homes.”


Wildlife Manager, Karen Klima mailed me a packet of information which included a brochure entitled, “Living With Javelina”. The following is from the brochure.


Homeowners have a legal right to use all reasonable measures to protect their property from damage by wildlife, but those measures shall not include capturing, injuring or unlawful killing of big-game animals. Javelina are classified as big-game animals in Arizona and are protected by state law. If you do not want javelina in your yard, it is your responsibility to keep them out.”


While many people enjoy seeing javelina and other wildlife in their neighborhoods, sometimes the pleasure of these encounters is marred by property damage or fear of a bite.

• Scare off animals by making loud noises, throwing small rocks in their direction, or spraying with water from a garden hose or large squirt gun filled with diluted ammonia (10% ammonia and 90% water).

• If the animal is confined, open a gate, have all people leave the area and allow it to leave on its own.

• If you see javelina while walking your dog (always on leash), avoid going near the javelina and quickly take your dog in a different direction.

• If a javelina is acting in an aggressive manner toward people, is contained and cannot leave on its own or be let out easily, or is in human possession, please call (629) 236-7201.”

“TIPS FOR LIVING IN JAVELINA COUNTRY (aka preventive measures)

• Never feed javelina!

• Feed pets indoors or immediately remove leftover food.

• Securely store all garbage.

• Keep birdseed and water off the ground and out of reach of javelina.

• Landscape with natural vegetation, instead of ornamental plants that javelina enjoy eating. Plant toxic bulbs, such as iris and narcissus, instead of tasty bulbs like tulips.

• Use poultry wire at or just below the soil surface to protect plant beds from digging.

• Fence your yard or garden. A 4-foot-high wall around the patio and bird-feeding area is effective.

• Pick up fruit as soon as it drops from the tree.

• Trim plants that could provide hiding cover.

• Securely close all openings to spaces under buildings and mobile homes.

• Don’t leave dogs tied up where javelina can get to them, and keep dogs on a leash when outdoors. Javelina view dogs as a threat and will defend themselves.”


Arizona Revised Statutes Title 17 is the legislation that covers the Game and Fish Department. In addition, the department has established Commission Rules.

Commission (aka Administrative) Rules

“An Administrative Rule is an agency statement of general applicability that implements, interprets, or prescribes law or policy; or describes the procedure or practice requirements of an agency. Generally, legislation is passed establishing broad guidelines and general standards for the operation of a program. It is then up to the impacted state agency to create rules for the specific processes and procedures needed to effectively implement statute. State agencies are required to make rules in accordance with the Administrative Procedure Act, prescribed under A.R.S. Title 41, Chapter 6. The authority for the Game and Fish Department’s rules comes from Arizona Revised Statutes Title 17. The Commission has general authority to make rules as provided under A.R.S. 17-231.”

R12-4-320. Harassment of Wildlife

A. In addition to the provisions of A.R.S. 17-301, it is unlawful to harass, molest, chase, rally, concentrate, herd, intercept, torment, or drive wildlife with or from any aircraft as defined in R12-4-319, or with or from any motorized terrestrial or aquatic vehicle.

B. This Section does not apply to individuals acting:

1. Under the provisions of A.R.S. 17-239; or

2. Within the scope of official duties as an employee or authorized agent of the state or the United States to administer or protect or aid in the administration or protection of and, water, wildlife, livestock, domesticated animals, human life, or crops.

The Arizona Revised Statutes are online at

17-239. Wildlife depredations; investigations; corrective measures; disposal; reports; judicial review

A. Any person suffering property damage from wildlife may exercise all reasonable measures to alleviate the damage, except that reasonable measures shall not include injuring or killing game mammals, game birds or wildlife protected by federal law or regulation

17-301.01. Protection from wildlife

A. Notwithstanding any other provision of this title, any person may take wildlife in self-defense or in defense of another person if it is immediately necessary to protect oneself or to protect the other person.

The law allows a person suffering property damage from wildlife to protect their property and anyone may kill an animal if s/he or another person is in immediate danger from the animal. Clearly, Title 17 is not a suicide pact.

However, if there is no immediate threat from a wild animal then using a motor vehicle to “harass, molest, chase, rally, concentrate, herd, intercept, torment, or drive wildlife” is illegal.

On June 9, I described the javelina’s behavior to Urban Wildlife Specialist, Locana de Souza. She said that what I described was “normal javelina behavior”. Every one I spoke with on June 7 and since has said that the javelina should have been left alone.


Arizona Game and Fish has a website with a plethora of information. Their home page is The following are pages on the site with interesting and important information.

“Living With Javelina”,

Video: “Arizona Javelina”,

“Living With Wildlife”,

Video: “Living With Urban Wildlife”,


Direct Dispatch, 24/7, (623) 236-7201.

To report poaching or harassment of animals, call (1) (800) 352-0700.

Tucson Regional, (520) 628-5376.

Urban Wildlife Specialist, Locana de Souza, (520) 628-5376,

Wildlife Manager, Karen Klima, (520) 457-2268,

Wildlife Manager, John Bacorn, (520) 384-6056,