Texas Javelina 
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Javelina, NOT Just a Nuisance Animal!
By Robert S. Steenbeke
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The Collared Peccary, better known in The Lone Star State as Javelina, is quite a controversial and interesting critter. Many ranchers and hunters hate them, believing them to be the spreaders of disease and prickly pear cactus, competitors for deer food, smelly and not worth eating. They are sometimes unaffectionately referred to as skunk pigs or ranch rats. Some people actually go so far as to shoot them and leave them lay. But, when the truth be known, javalina are actually beneficial to ranchers and hunters, and they are very much “worth eating”. Besides, anyone that shoots a javie and leaves it laying is not only doing a disservice to this admirable little animal, but is in violation of state laws for not retrieving a game animal, and for not keeping game meat in an edible condition. Peccary do, however, smell, but this is only because of a small dorsal musk gland, and that is easily taken care of. 
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So what do you say we learn a little bit more about the javalina?
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The name Javelina comes from the word javelin, which is a small sharp spear, and is believed to refer to the very sharp teeth that these creatures have. Taxonomically, the javalina is listed as; Animalia, Chordata, Mammalia, Artiodactyla, Tayassuidae, and the genus is usually recognized as Tayassu, but sometimes Pecari. The specie is tajacu. This all means that the specie is an animal, with a backbone, and a mammal, with a cloven hoof, that is a true cud chewer. There are 14 recognized sub-species of peccary spreading from Northern Argentina, all through Central America and parts of the southwestern United States, principally Arizona, New Mexico and Texas. The sub-specie found in Texas is known as Sonari.
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Though javalina resemble small pigs, and many of their habits are similar, they are NOT PIGS. The Peccaries evolved wholly upon the North American continent and then spread south through Central America and parts of South America, while swine evolved upon the European continent. Other differences are many, including a maximum weight of 84 pounds versus over 1000 pounds, average weight of 50 pounds versus 200 pounds, a different number of teats, straight versus curved tusks, 3 toes versus 4 on the hind foot, a dorsal musk gland versus none, small erect ears versus large bent ones, and a vestigial tail versus an obvious one. The javelina having the first listed traits and the pigs having the later traits. 
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Some persons have claimed that javalina are members of the Rodent family and therefore no more than a big rat. This is absolutely false! They are NOT RATS. Javies are more closely related to the hippopotamus and rhinoceros than they are to any member of Rodentia. The teeth, stomach and tail all clearly differentiate between the two. Perhaps these erroneous claims have arisen out of an attempt to justify the wasteful slaughter perpetuated by some ranchers and hunters.  Let me repeat here-
IT IS NOT JUST IMMORAL TO SHOOT JAVIES AND LET THEM LAY - 
IT IS ILLEGAL!
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Despite the illegal killing that sometimes occurs here in Old Tejas, javalina populations are generally believed to be stable across much of their United states range. I couldn't find a Texas state-wide javelina population estimate, but the annual legal kill exceeds 20,000 and is holding steady.
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Javelina are herd animals, found in groups of 2-20 individuals, with 54 being the record sighting. These herds are usually comprised of close-knit family groups. Herds maintain a territory, which varies in size based upon food and cover availability. They defend the interior of these areas against all other javalina intruders, but other groups are tolerated along the perimeters. Herds will consist of all age classes and both sexes. The sex ratio is typically 1:1, but the dominant male is usually the only male to do any breeding. 
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The male Javie becomes sexually mature at about 1 year old. The female may mature as early as 8 months old, or as late as 14 months. A normal litter consists of 2 young, but may be 1-6. Gestation is 141-151 days. Young javalina may be born at any time of the year, but the peak of breeding activity in Texas seems to be the winter months. The female will leave the herd for just 1 day to give birth. The babies are able to follow their mom within a couple of hours, and they rejoin the herd soon after. Birth normally comes in a den made from a hollowed log, a rock crevice, or a hole in otherwise super dense brush. Older sisters of the babies often nurse them once the mom and young return to the herd. Weaning occurs at about 6-8 weeks but the young stay at mother's side for up to 3 months. Adult javelina may live to be 15 years or more, and 1 individual in captivity made it to 24 years. 
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The javelina is omnivorous, meaning it will eat just about anything that doesn't eat it first. This is where it sometimes earns a bad rap; when it happens upon a quail nest full of eggs or an injured fawn, but these things are rare. One thing I have repeatedly watched javelina kill is rattlesnakes ( which should endear them to most ), but about 60% of the javalina’s normal diet is nothing but prickly pear cactus. They are true cud chewers, equipped with a three compartment, complex stomach, designed to break down foods high in cellulose content, like cactus, grass, roots, nuts and tubers. So, up to 95% of the diet is normally high cellulose vegetation of one kind or another. Yes, there is some overlap into the preferred browse of deer, but the overlap is small, and for the good that javies do in controlling cactus and other noxious growth, the overlap is a small price to pay. Just 1 goat will eat 4-6 times as much deer browse as a javelina.
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As for being a spreader of disease, javalina carry no more diseases than do deer, cows, or feral hogs. In fact, they have far fewer than do the average wild swine. This is probably because javies are natives to the region and have had 5 million years to build immunities to most maladies likely to be around. 
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Now to the eating of a javalina. Javelina can truly be some mighty fine main courses, IF, you bear these things in mind. First, don't shoot a big old boar. When you buy prime beef, you don't pick out the oldest, biggest bull in the herd. You pick out young, fattened cows. So, be selective when you shoot a javalina for the freezer. Pick one that's obviously a little smaller than the rest. Second, employ a head or neck shot causing little tissue damage to the edible portions of meat. Blood shot meat is not the most flavorful or visually appealing cuts to cook. Third, be very careful to avoid getting hair or musk on the meat. If you get much on there, the meat will smell and taste just like it, nasty! Many people cut the musk gland off before skinning the animal. I think this just spreads musk around even more. Skinning carefully will remove the gland without ever squeezing or puncturing it. Making your cuts from the inside of the skin going outward will lessen the hair deposited on the meat, as well keep your blade sharp for much longer. You will still get some hair on the meat. It can't be helped. Wash any accidentally deposited hair off the meat as soon as possible. And lastly, a good marinade will do wonders for any game meat, javelina included. I like beer, or wine, or buttermilk, or Italian dressing for several hours prior to cooking, but a couple changes of cold, clean water works well also. Once done with the marinade, any recipe for veal will work well with javelina. Tossing a couple of shoulders in a large roasting pot and covering the meat with various cut vegetables and 2 cups of beef broth makes a simple but wonderful dinner. Any leftovers can be quickly and easily made into a satisfying stew or soup.
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So how does one find a Javie to shoot? In a nut shell; find the pear! Animals tend to be near their favorite food sources and with a javelina that is unquestionably prickly pear cactus. Peccary don't spread this plant nearly so much as they devour this plant. Nut grass, as well as agarita berries and roots are also readily consumed. Javelina activity patterns are diurnal, being both night and day, but generally crepuscular, occurring near sunrise and sunset. This means you should hunt them hard at daybreak until mid-morning, and again near sunset. I have seen them out at all hours of the day however, and this is especially true if the weather is cool and/or cloudy. Javies may NOT be hunted at night since they are listed as game animals by TX Parks and Wildlife and no game animal may be taken with the aid of an artificial light (with a few specific exceptions like lighted sight pins), nor hunted from 1/2 hour after legal sunset until 1/2 hour before legal sunrise.
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Once found, shooting a javelina is not much of a challenge. Their sense of sight is rather poor, and hearing is fair but not great. You must watch their nose though as their sense of smell is quite good. Be sure to stay downwind of them. A bow and arrow would make the hunt more interesting, but go for the heart lung shot instead of head or neck. Do watch for them to “jump the string”. The reaction time of a Javie is at least as fast as a deer, and they can run up to 21 MPH, seemingly after just one jump. Consequently, it's best not to shoot at any alert animal. If you have the wind on them, they will typically calm back down and return to feeding after a short while, so don't push a bad situation.
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Good luck making that harvest number go to 20,000 plus 1, and take care of that meat. It really is a primo start for some carne guisada, Javie parmesan, ad infinitum.
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REFERENCES
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Bellantoni, Elizabeth. Habitat Use by Mule Deer and Collared Peccaries in an Urban Environment; Report 42. Tucson: University of Arizona, 1991. Pp.2,3, 32-33 
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Bissonette, John. Ecology and Ecological Behavior of Collared Peccaries in Big Bend National Park; Series 6. Washington D.C.: U.S. Department of the Interior National Parks Service, 1982. Pp.ix-xi, 10-11, 15-16, 39-43, 47 
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Grzimek's Encyclopedia of Mammals. Vol.5. New York: McGraw-Hill Publishing, 1990. Pp.51-55 
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Hall, E.Raymond. The Mammals of North America. Vol.2. Toronto: John Wiley & Sons, 1981. Pp.1079-1081 
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Wild Animals of North America. Washington D.C.: National Geographic Society, 1987. P.322 
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Day, Gerald I. 1985. Javelina: Research and Management in Arizona. Phoenix, Arizona. Arizona Game and Fish Department.
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Day, Gerald I., and William K. Carrel. 1986. Aging Javelina By Tetracycline Labeling of Teeth. Phoenix, Arizona. Arizona Game and Fish Department.
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Encyclopedia Brittannica Online. 
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Gabor, Timothy M., E.C. Hellgren, and N.J. Silvy. 1997. "Renal Morphology of Sympatric Suiforms: Implications for Competition." Journal of Mammalogy 78(4): 1089-1095.
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Gilbert, Bil. 1999. "Do Not Take the Javelina Lightly." Smithsonian 30 (5): 52-60. 
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Gottdenker, Nicole and Richard E. Bodmer. 1998. "Reproduction and productivity of white-lipped and collared peccaries in the Peruvian Amazon." Journal of Zoology 245: 423-430.
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Green, Galen and E. Grant. 1984. "Variability of Observed Group Sizes Within Collared Peccary Herds." Journal of Wildlife Management 48 (1): 244-248.
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Hellgren, Eric C., Synatzske, D.R., Oldenburg, P.W., Guthery, F.S. 1995. "Demography of a Collared Peccary Population in South Texas." Journal of Wildlife Management 59(1): 153-163.
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Henry, Olivier and Jacky Judas. 1999. "Seasonal Variation of Home Range of Collared Peccary in Tropical Rain Forests of French Guiana." Journal of Wildlife Management 62 (2): 546-552.
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Knipe, Theodore. 1959. The Javelina in Arizona. Phoenix, Arizona. Arizona Game and Fish Department.
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Mayer, John J. and Philip N. Brandt. 1982. "Identity, Distribution, and Natural History of the Peccaries, Tayassuidae." Mammalian Biology in South America, M.A. Mares and H.H. Genoways, eds. Pittsburgh, PA.: University of Pittsburgh Press: 433-55.
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Nowak. 1991. Walker’s Mammals of the World. Fifth Edition Vol. II. Baltimore, MD Johns Hopkins University Press.
Ockenfels, R.A., G.I. Day and V.C. Supplee. 1985. Peccary Workshop Proceedings. Tucson, AZ. University of Arizona Press.
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Parker, Sybil P. Ed. 1990. Grzimek’s Encyclopedia of Mammals. McGraw-Hill.
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Peres, Carlos A. 1996. "Population Status of White-lipped Tayassu pecari and Collared Peccaries T. tajacu in Hunted and Unhunted Amazonian Forests." Biological Conservation 77: 115-123.
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Shively, C.L., F.M. Whitting, R.S. Swingle, W.H. Brown, L.K. Sowls. 1985. "Some Aspects of the Nutritional Biology of the Collared Peccary." Journal of Wildlife Management 49 (3): 729-732.
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Sowls, Lyle K. 1997. Javelinas and Other Peccaries. College Station, Texas A&M University Press. 
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Theimer, Tad C. and Paul Keim. 1994. "Geographic Patterns of Mitochondrial-DNA Variation in Collared Peccaries." Journal of Mammalogy 75 (1): 121-128.
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Theimer, Tad C. and Paul Keim. 1998. "Phylogenetic Relationships of Peccaries Based on Mitochondrial Cytochrome B DNA Sequences." Journal of Mammalogy 79 (2): 566-572. 
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Ticer, Cindy L. D., R.A. Ockenfels, T.E. Morrell, J.C.deVos, Jr. 1994. "Habitat Use and Activity Patterns of Urban-Dwelling Javelina in Prescott, Arizona." Tech. Rep. 14, Phoenix, Arizona. Arizona Game and Fish Department.
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Waggoner, Ben. 1996. UCMP Hall of Mammals Artiodactyla: Systematics .
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Zervanos, Stan M. and Gerald I. Day. 1977. "Water and Energy Requirements of Captive and Free-Living Collared Peccaries." Journal of Wildlife Management 41 (3): 527-532.

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