PIMA COUNTY, AZ (Tucson News Now) - After two recent cases of suspected wildlife feeding, Arizona Game and Fish officials are reminding residents of Pima and Pinal County that feeding wild animals is illegal.
One reported case involved a woman being bitten by a javelina.
"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 in a recent 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."
In 2011 a Tucson resident became the first person in Pima County to be prosecuted for feeding wildlife. A new law makes it illegal in Pima, Maricopa and Pinal Counties to feed wildlife, especially javelina. The exception to this law is birds and tree squirrels.
Arizona Game and Fish stated they cited the person, after they had repeatedly fed javelina in the area; the person was sentenced in Pima County Justice Court and ordered to stop placing food for wildlife on the ground.
"Most people who intentionally feed wildlife are initially under the impression that they are doing something positive for wildlife," Vega said. "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."
Vega stated several more responsible ways to feed birds without allowing access to other animals, such as feeding with a bird feeder or seed block in an enclosed yard or on a secure raised platform.
For more tips on living with urban wildlife go online to www.azgfd.gov/urbanwildlife.
To report apparent wildlife violations contact Operation Game Thief at 1-800-372-0500.