Friday, November 25, 2016

Javalina saga

Here in Arizona, javalinas are part of the native wildlife. Here's what they look like.

They are a collared peccary, most closely related to pigs and hippopotamuses. We think they're both cute and ugly, probably because Bud, our potbellied pig who lived nearly 19 years, was also both cute and ugly.

A month ago we got a text message from Bob, our summer care person. He said, "I think you have a javalina living under your park model. I will keep an eye on it." The reason for his suspicion was a torn place in the skirting at the back of our park model. Bob and his wife Sue boarded up the tear and used a couple of cement bricks to hold up the board.

Two weeks later, just before we arrived in Tucson for the winter, another message from Bob: "They are back. Best give me a call." He included a photograph showing the animal had broken through the barrier. Strong and determined javalina!

Art repaired the tear in the skirting and boarded it up.

The next night the javalina broke through the skirting along the side of the park model.

This skirting was boarded up and the javalina broke through another spot in the back. By this time it felt like a chess game between the javalina and us. We felt a grudging admiration for its tenacity.

We called a wildlife animal expert to discuss next steps. Mark came out, crawled under the park model, and confirmed he'd found the nest but that the javalina was not in residence at the moment. He laid down red pepper just outside the park model. The next morning, javalina tracks leading to the park model confirmed the animal had returned but had not been deterred, as there were no departing tracks.

Mark came out again. He taped strips of plastic to the opening in the side of our place; we'd be able to tell whether the javalina came through them, and whether they were coming or going.

The answer was "both coming and going", as we discovered. Each morning the lowest strip of plastic was torn away. Sometimes the strip was torn inward and sometimes outward.

Mark came out yet again. He installed strobe lights beneath the park model. He'd had success getting raccoons out of attics with this approach, though he'd never tried it with javalinas. Apparently the javalina didn't mind the flickering lights!

By now we were seriously considering the possibility the animal would have to be trapped and relocated. I contacted the park manager and presented our case as one of safety for older residents. He agreed to pay for the relocation. I called Arizona Fish and Game to get approval for the relocation; javalinas are a protected species in Arizona and Mark told us we'd need to get permission from them. We did. The Fish and Game guy suggested Mark send away for mountain lion urine, but Mark convinced the guy that we'd been dealing with the issue for long enough.

Mark asked us to put out some food so we could see what the animal was eating this time of year, so he could bait a humane trap with something that would be attractive. We  bought a small pumpkin, a carrot, an apple and a potato - and added half an avocado from the fridge.

That night? None of the strips were torn away, and none of the food was eaten.

The next night? Same thing.

The next morning we left for Thanksgiving week, and we're still away. I'm hoping the javalina has decided to take up residence elsewhere.

Thoughts on this experience:

  • I believe the javalina has just as much of a right to shelter as any other creature. Just not underneath where we live.
  • I have a friend who's a shaman. Last week she and several others took a shamanic journey to meet up with the javalina. Apparently the animals - she believes there are three, not just the one - felt displaced and were strongly attracted to something under our park model that needed to be "rooted out". The journeyers asked the creatures to find another place to live. I'm pretty open minded; it's possible we have seen the last of the animal as the result of the journeyers.
  • The "rooted out" piece brought to mind the oversized palo verde tree in our back yard that has become a nuisance and needs to be cut down. Could it be growing roots under the park model that might do damage?
  • It helps to be patient!


DJan said...

Well, it seems that something caused a change in their decision to live there. Hope they found another nice place, and that it wan't under another residence! :-)

Anonymous said...

A peccary it. Hope it stays away now.

joeh said...

That is a new critter to me. I think they got wind of the relocation and wanted none of it.

Deb Shucka said...

I sure hope they're not partying it up under your park model while you're in Washington! It seems you are surrounded by displaced beings.

Olga said...

Now there is a household problem I have not encountered before! You learn something new from every experience.

Saku said...

When you mentioned they were undeterred, I thought perhaps there were young ones under the park model. Glad to know that wasn't the case.

Hopefully they decided to move on, on their own or with the help of the guides.

joared said...

Let's hope they moved on -- an interesting story. Hadn't heard of that sort of problem when I lived in Arizona years ago. Maybe the population expanding so much and into the creatures territory accounts for their presence.

Tom said...

Funny story ... reminds me of some of our exploits with raccoons. Anyway, that javalina may be ugly, but it seems like he's smart!

Sandi said...

This story is the most unusual I've heard in awhile! I have learned way more about these interesting creatures than I would have believed possible! Sure hope you have success soon, with reclaiming the underside of your park model. Or, if that doesn't happen, perhaps they (I'm thinking there's more than one!) will make decent pets. They are tenacious, smart, and apparently pretty darn intelligent!!