County residents warned that feeding wildlife is illegal | News
Residents across both Pima and Pinal counties are being warned by Arizona Game and Fish that feeding javelina and other wildlife is illegal, according to state law.
According to a news release from AZ Game and Fish, nine families in the Tucson area alone, had to be warned about feeding wildlife this month, javelina especially.
“Javelina are common in urban areas, often near a wash or other natural desert. We encourage watching wildlife from a safe distance, but javelina should never be fed by humans,” said Tucson Regional Supervisor Raul Vega, according to the news release. “Javelina occasionally bite people, and such incidents are almost always associated with people providing the javelina with food. They can inflict a serious wound.”
Typical defensive javelina behavior could include charging, teeth clacking, or a barking, growling sound. Javelina may act in this manner when they are cornered, trying to protect their young, or when they hear or smell a dog.
The reason for this is coyotes are natural predators of javelina, and the javelina do not distinguish between coyotes and dogs. If dogs and javelina are allowed to interact, they can seriously hurt or even kill each other. Javelina that stay around homes may also inadvertently attract mountain lions, because mountain lions prey on javelina.
“Most people who intentionally feed wildlife are initially under the impression that they are doing something positive for wildlife,” said Urban Wildlife Specialist Locana de Souza of Game and Fish in Tucson. “However, habituating wildlife to a human food source inevitably leads to conflicts with people and can result in serious harm in some cases. Furthermore, feeding wildlife can cause problems such as obesity and malnutrition, and promote the spread of disease.”
In 2011, a Tucson resident became the first person to be prosecuted in Pima County under a new state law (A.R.S. 13-2927), which makes it illegal to feed wildlife in Pima, Maricopa and more recently Pinal County, with the exception of birds as well as tree squirrels, which are rare at lower elevations.
The person was cited by Game and Fish, after repeated requests by wildlife officers that she stop feeding javelina, went unheeded. That person was sentenced in Pima County Justice Court, and ordered to stop placing food for wildlife on the ground.
“There are responsible ways to feed birds without allowing other wildlife to access the seed,” de Souza added. “Birds can be fed in an enclosed yard, preferably in a bird feeder. A tray can be attached beneath a feeder to catch spillover seed. Seed blocks should be placed in an enclosed area or on a secure raised platform. “
For tips on living with urban wildlife, visit www.azgfd.gov/urbanwildlife. To report apparent wildlife violations contact Operation Game Thief at 1-800-372-0500, anonymously if need be.
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