Everyone knows that I have declared this creature to be my nemesis. Four archery seasons, and four empty tags. Arrrggghhhh….

Some interesting stuff from Jim Heffelfinger at AZGF

Did you get your javelina?
Facts you may not have known about this unique big game animal

By Jim Heffelfinger, regional game specialist, Arizona Game and Fish Department

The general spring javelina season concluded last week, and you may be one of the several thousand hunters who took to the field to test your skills. Whether you are a seasoned javelina hunter or a relative beginner, here are some interesting facts you may not have known about this interesting species.

A relative newcomer
Javelina are relative newcomers to Arizona. Archeological remains prior to 1700 show no evidence of the species in the state. The javelina is thought to have evolved in the thick thorn scrub of subtropical South America. Its distribution has spread northward and increased from a scattered presence in low river valleys of southeastern Arizona to the ponderosa pines near Williams, west of Flagstaff.

The javelina is also known as the collared peccary, named for the white band, or collar, that runs across the shoulders. Contrary to popular myths, javelina are not members of the rodent family, nor are they actually members of the pig family (although many hunters commonly refer to them as pigs). Their characteristics are unique enough to place them in a separate family with two other species of peccary: the white-lipped and the Chacoan.

Much maligned for their lack of intelligence, the javelina is not any less intelligent than our other native wildlife. They simply developed a different combination of attributes to survive in their environment. Their eyesight is very poor at distances greater than 100 yards. This is understandable for an animal that evolved in the thick brush, where food, water, shelter and predators could only be seen at very short distances. Their sense of smell and hearing abilities, however, are very well developed.

Javelina herds
Javelina travel about in large groups, or herds. These herds occupy a territory of about one to two square miles, which is defended from other, adjacent herds. In good javelina habitat, each territorial boundary abuts the boundary of adjacent herds. This makes it somewhat difficult to answer the question: “Where are the javelina in this area?” The answer is, they are everywhere in good habitat.

The number of javelina per herd averages eight to 12 throughout the state. Herds numbering 40 or more are reported annually, but they are uncommon. Arizona Game and Fish Department researcher Gerald Day counted 500 herds during his 25 years of javelina research. He saw only six herds with more than 30 animals, and none with more than 40.

Javelina spend their time resting and feeding. Resting occurs primarily in traditional bedgrounds located in low areas of thick brush or caves throughout their territory. Bedgrounds offer soft soil to lie on and protection from predators and the weather.

Javelina have poor long-distance eyesight but good smelling and hearing abilities.When feeding, javelina concentrate heavily on succulents such as prickly pear, hedgehog, barrel cactus, lechuguilla and cholla. The fruits and fleshy parts provide not only nutritious feed, but water as well. When javelina feed on prickly pear pads, they grasp the pad and pull, which shreds the pad and leaves the stringy interior fibers visible. When javelina feed on small cacti such as hedgehogs, they knock the cactus over with a front hoof. The insides are eaten out so that only the tough outer skin and spines remain. Lechuguilla leaves are pulled apart and left scattered as the javelina eats the fleshy heart out of the plant. Roots and tubers are also dug or “rooted” up by javelina in search of nutrition.

Although javelina are “everywhere,” they never seem to be where you are (even when you’ve seemingly been everywhere). Knowing how javelina feed and what signs they leave behind is the key to successful javelina hunting.

Javelina meat
Javelina meat is considered by some to be less than palatable. Some people have even gone as far as to suggest this is the reason we find no evidence of javelina in pre-1700 archeological sites (during what paleontologists call the “Pre-crockpot Period”). However, if properly cared for in the field, javelina provides good eating. The key is to field dress the animal immediately and skin it at your first opportunity. Don’t worry about the scent gland; it is attached to the skin and will come off when you skin the animal. The hairs of the javelina are covered with this scent; make sure you do not touch the meat with the hand that has been holding the hide.

Hunting opportunity and harvest goals
The Arizona Game and Fish Department offers hunt permits for javelina based on trends in biological data, which is collected annually. Biologists in each game management unit monitor trends in factors such as the average herd size, number of adults per herd, javelina seen per hour of helicopter survey, hunter success, days expended per animal harvested, and reproductive rate. By tracking this kind of information year to year, the department can provide hunting opportunity for this species, while making sure the harvest won’t affect the overall population for future generations.