In Arizona’s Coconino National Forest, a unique battle is brewing between the Seven Canyons Golf Club and a massive herd of wild javelina, also known as “skunk pigs.”
With the golf course serving as the battleground, the skunk pigs have been leaving a trail of destruction in their wake for the past six weeks, prompting the club to search for solutions.
These unassuming creatures have been anything but peaceful during their annual fall rush.
Thirty to fifty javelina squadrons have descended upon the golf course, causing havoc as they graze and search for food in their drought-stricken environment.
This year, their destructive tendencies have reached unprecedented levels, requiring the club to spend 45 to 50 hours each week repairing the damage.
Assistant Superintendent Em Casey’s video of the destruction quickly went viral, garnering over 25 million views and sparking the online movement known as #TeamJavelina.
While the Arizona Alliance of Golf claims that golf courses make up only 2% of Arizona’s daily water usage, an investigation by the Arizona Republic found that golf courses in the state were consistently exceeding their daily water limits.
The average daily water use per golf course stands at about 450,000 gallons, which raises concerns about overdrawn resources. This overuse not only affects the availability of water from sources like the Colorado River basin but also depletes groundwater sources essential for the survival of endangered local fauna.
The javelina’s destructive behavior can be attributed to their survival instincts amidst a severe drought. They have been drawn to the golf course in search of grazing greens and grubworms, disrupting the golfers’ paradise that was carved out of their natural habitat.
The drastic difference in rainfall this year, with less than 2 inches in the Sedona area compared to the 18 inches seen last year, has spurred the skunk pigs into action.
The golf course management has not been idle in their efforts to deter the javelina. Five years ago, they tried using granules of coyote urine to discourage the skunk pigs.
However, this unconventional method seemed to have the opposite effect, as the javelina found the scent irresistible, causing them to run wild across the course, leaving their mark everywhere.
In their ongoing struggle to keep the skunk pigs at bay, the golf course management is now experimenting with a million Scoville-unit chili oil that can be sprayed over the turf without harming it.
While they are cautious about getting the right formulation to preserve the grass, it remains a challenge to find a solution that will deter the javelina without causing harm.
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This article by Trinity Sparke was first published by One Green Planet on 31 October 2023. Image Credit :Dennis W Donohue/Shutterstock.