PHOENIX – Three javelinas made a surprise appearance at a Phoenix school Tuesday morning.
St. Theresa Catholic School Principal Maureen Fyan said she saw one run across the parking lot of the school at 50th Street and Thomas Road.
"It was scary to see him running around because I didn't know which way he was going to go and he was going full speed ahead," Fyan said. "He was fast."
The children were kept away from the animals while school officials waited for police and wildlife officers.
"There's always a potential for wild animals to cause problems," said Darren Julian, urban wildlife specialist with the Arizona Game and Fish Department.
Julian and another wildlife officer tranquilized the two females and one male, all believed to be adults. They were taken to Southwest Wildlife Conservation Center.
"This is not their typical place in the Valley where we see them," Julian said. "Usually, we see them on the fringe areas next to open space, for example, Camelback Mountain."
He said javelinas typically eat plants and may have been drawn to the area because of the rose bushes and other vegetation.
Julian said the Game and Fish Department has received calls about javelinas in the vicinity over the last few months and officers previously removed two others.
Julian said javelinas are usually not dangerous to people, but they do have long and sharp canine teeth.
"Most of the conflicts we see are with medium- to large-sized dogs. They're looking at those much like they would a coyote."
"Our concern is with the interaction with people," Julian said. "If they're being aggressive, approaching you, huffing and puffing, clacking their teeth, then we want to know about it."
One way to minimize problems with javelinas is to not leave out food sources that are easily accessible. Julian said there are feral cats in the area and people leave out cat food, which javelinas will eat.
"That's where the problems will escalate quickly, when they start losing their fear of people and coming towards people looking for the handout," Julian said.
Julian estimated that the females weighed 40 to 45 pounds and the male was about 50 to 55 pounds.