TUCSON, Ariz. (KOLD News 13) - Authorities are looking for the person responsible for the death of a javelina in Tucson.
The Arizona Game and Fish Department said the javelina got its snout and foot stuck in an illegal leg-hold trap.
“We heard about it for almost a month and in that time, it was starving,” said Dr. Roberto Aguilar, a veterinarian and wildlife expert at the Tucson Wildlife Center. “It couldn't drink, couldn't eat.”
“The reports were intermittent,” said Mark Hart, public information officer for Arizona Game and Fish in Tucson. “We would get a report [in the Greasewood and Speedway area] and go out and would be unable to find it.”
By the time Game and Fish workers were able to capture the javelina, it was so weak it could barely move.
It was brought to Aguilar at the Wildlife Center on Tuesday. “[X-rays show the trap] broke some teeth and that’s pretty serious,” he said. “[The javelinas snout] was so infected; the tissues around it, it was not going to survive.”
Aguilar had to make the difficult decision to put it down.
“There’s no way to build it back up; the structure of the skull was so badly damaged,” Aguilar said. “It was the most humane thing we could do.”
Aguilar said the Wildlife Center received nearly 4,000 animals this year and many of the cases involved traps.
For Game and Fish, this past month has been particularly concerning.
On Oct. 21, a javelina was beat to death in Starr Pass and on Oct. 28, a hawk was found with an arrow through its body near Three Points.
“We have had three ‘Operation Game Thief’ rewards offered for different cases in as many weeks,” Hart said. “That’s a lot for this office.”
The Arizona Game and Fish Department’s Operation Game Thief program is offering a reward of up to $1,500 for information leading to an arrest of the person responsible for trapping the javelina and ultimately leading to its death.
A conviction for a crime like this could carry a six-month jail term and up to a $750 fine. Civic penalties may apply and law enforcement can tack on animal cruelty charges as well.
Anyone with information is urged to contact Game and Fish at 1-800-352-0700.