If you’re lucky when visiting Arizona you’ll see a javelina, sometimes called a “skunk pig.” They are commonly spotted in some Arizona State Parks.
But, you ask, “What the heck is a javelina?” It’s one of the most approachable wildlife species in the state’s parks. They are near-sighted, often noisy (which covers your sound on approach), and, well, they’re stinky! A scent gland emits a pungent, skunk-like odor used to identify herd members and warn them of a dangerous situation. You might smell them before actually seeing them. Approach from downwind so they don’t smell you and you will soon be within camera range for stunning close up photos! It’s best to use a telephoto lens.
These “New World” pig-like creatures are increasing their range northward every year. In Arizona they are commonly seen in desert parks like Catalina, Oracle and Lost Dutchman. They also have strong populations at Tonto Natural Bridge and Red Rock state parks.
The social animals are often found within herds averaging eight animals. It’s not uncommon to see young javelina or “reds” at any time throughout the year. A javelina weighs about 45 to 90 pounds when full grown.
But remember, get close enough for great photos, but not too close or you’ll make the animal feel uncomfortable.
If you can’t manage to spot a javelina in the wild, you’ll up your odds about 1,000 percent at the wonderful Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum in Tucson.