The javelina (collared peccary) is a game animal in Texas and it has lost 2/3 of its native range in 70 years.
This species is a denizen of the arid regions of Texas. At one time they roamed from the Rio Grande to the Red River but that range has been cut down to less than half that size.
There are now according to the Texas Parks & Wildlife Department (TPWD) roughly 100,000 of these animals inhabiting 62 million acres of rangeland.
One of the most feral hog dense regions is the javelina’s South Texas stronghold and while they are not pigs, they eat many things pigs eat. They readily devour corn put out for deer, soured grain set out to bait hogs.
What I am about to tell you about the species was discovered during the debate over poisoning hogs in the wilds of Texas. I was concerned about impact on javelinas and I should have been.
Unlike feral hogs, javelina are a native species that can easily coexist and compete little with free-ranging whitetail deer, the state’s most popular game animal.
They key word here is “free ranging”.
TPWD’s “Javelina in Texas” publication notes that “Recent downturns in javelina population trends in South Texas appear to follow drought cycles, habitat management treatments, and more recent emphasis on white-tailed deer management, including high fencing and predator control.”
They go on to say that although habitat improvement for white-tailed deer, such as food plots, supplemental feeding, and water development improved habitat for javelina, in many cases it also exacerbated problems between deer enthusiasts and javelina.
“Incidental and illegal harvest of javelina due to their perceived nuisance of predation, agricultural damage and competition with deer has added to this decline.” (TPWD)
Big protein-fed, selectively bred whitetail bucks bring in big bucks to ranchers and peccaries are not a priority. In fact, as the TPWD document notes illegal harvest is rampant.
If warfarin ends up killing those bucks their will be an outcry as big as the state itself. If it kills peccaries, you can bet more will be put out. Many will look at taking out hogs and these small Texas natives as a two for one special.
These animals should be given their due respect just like any other Texas native but they are not an easy icon to get behind. Hunters don’t care too much for them and they are not well known enough for the “green” movement to support.
At the time of this writing it looked like the warfarin-based toxin might have some legal hurdles to overcome before hitting the field.
As for the javelina, they will benefit from any ban or delay.
Because you see the “Texas Javelina Massacre” actually began years ago. It was about the time high fences started popping up south of San Antonio and the javelina became an enemy instead of a respected species.
And no one from any side of the conservation aisle seems to care.
Chester Moore, Jr.