Living Peacefully With Javelina

Pest control is often thought of as a way to eradicate pests from your home and reduce the population of bugs, rodents, and other undesirable guests in the surrounding area. However, it also includes configuring your landscape so that existing creatures simply pass by. Residents of Arizona, New Mexico, and western Texas have to deal with an interesting animal routinely pasing through more rural neighborhoods: the javelina (aka the collared peccary; the plural is also javelina, though some people use javelinas).

If you're about to move to one of these areas or are planning an extended homestay-style vacation there, you need to know how to care for your home so that you and the javelina all coexist in peace. These boarlike animals (though javelina aren't wild boars) tend to roam suburban and rural areas near parks and washes, so your chances of seeing one in your yard may be greater than you think.

Landscape With Javelina Boredom in Mind

One of the reasons javelina travel into populated areas is that humans like to grow a lot of tasty plants. Think of javelina as the Southwest's version of deer that invade backyards in so many other parts of the country -- the hungry animals will chomp on several plants in your yard if you aren't careful. With this in mind, if you have the chance to re-landscape your property, choose plants that javelina don't like. Luckily there are many lovely plants that will grow in the desert that javelina won't want to eat. Note that sometimes javelina will bite into a plant that is supposed to be javelina-resistant; that's just a hazard of living anywhere that has wildlife.

Also, put hoses away, and don't leave sprinkler hoses lying around. Cover drip irrigation hoses well. Javelina have been known to chew into hoses to get water.

Get That Fence in Place

If you are in an HOA-controlled development, get permission to install a fence around your property if you don't already have one. Exclusion is a major way to keep the animals out. If you already have a fence, inspect it regularly and repair any weak spots or holes immediately.

If somehow a javelina gets into a fenced enclosure and gets stuck there, do one of two things. First, open a gate and then leave the area so that the javelina can move out on its own. If that doesn't work, call the nearest state Game and Fish office for help. Never try to deal with freeing a javelina yourself other than opening a gate.

Be Nice, But Not That Nice

Don't antagonize or approach javelina if you see them, especially if you have a pet. Javelina have been known to attack dogs, and while javelina don't normally attack humans, they will in some circumstances. If you see them, move away from them immediately.

Do not ever feed javelina. They will learn that you are a food source, and they will keep coming back to you for more food. Don't leave pet food out when your pet is done eating if the pet is eating outside. Among the predators of javelina are mountain lions, and you don't want mountain lions following javelina to your house.

If you see neighbors feeding javelina, contact the nearest office of the State Game and Fish Department. Also contact that office if you see javelina that appear to be sick because the animals can carry rabies and distemper.

Javelina sound scary, but if you live in the Southwest, you'll eventually see them. Remember that millions of people live in metro area like Phoenix, where javelina are common, and if they can live with javelina, so can you.