TUCSON, Ariz. (KOLD News 13) - The Arizona Game and Fish Department’s Operation Game Thief program has increased the reward to catching the person or persons responsible in the death of a javelina mother has increased to $2,000 on Wednesday, Oct. 23.
In addition, the Arizona chapter of Safari Club International today offered a reward of up to $500 for information leading to a conviction in the case.
Paige Grafton often sees javelina and other wildlife roaming through her Starr Pass student housing complex.
Most of the time, she leaves them alone.
That changed late Monday, Oct. 21, when she had to step in to save two baby javelina after their mother was killed.
Grafton heard a loud bang, or sound of some sort, come from outside her door. When she stepped outside to find out what happened, she found a dead javelina and her two babies squealing nearby.
“One of the javelina dropped and started twitching," she said.
Grafton quickly called for help and Tucson Police showed up first on scene.
Grafton and her roommate captured video as they helped the two baby javelina into a box, so that animal control could pick them up and take them to the Tucson Wildlife Center. The two are now rehabbing there. It’s unclear if they’ll be able to released back into the wild at some point.
On Tuesday, a blood-stained rock remained where the javelina had been killed at the complex.
The Tucson Police Department and the Arizona Game and Fish Department are investigating what happened. Both agencies told KOLD News 13 the javelina died from blunt force trauma. This person or persons may have used a rock or another object to kill the state-protected animal.
KOLD News 13 was told there are no clear cut suspects, only persons of interest. The incident happened between the hours of 7 p.m. and 9 p.m.
“Because of darkness, we can’t be sure who did it,” said Mark Hart, a spokesperson for Arizona Game and Fish.
Grafton is incredibly hurt and concerned for these animals after overhearing the incident, and hopes whoever did it is caught.
“That was a wild animal. You took an animal’s life and the baby’s lives. For what? How is that fun or funny?," she asked. “My first response when I see a cute animal is I want to take pictures, leave them alone, be happy. Their first response was to kill it.”
Arizona Game and Fish said this is a serious offense and whoever did this could face a number of violations from animal cruelty to illegal take out of season if prosecution is pursued.
“The fact animal cruelty is among the charges being considered tells you all you need to know about this case,” Hart said.
Anyone with information is asked to call Tucson Police at 88-CRIME or AZGFD at 1-800-352-0700.