Lower Gila Box, Dry Canyon

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Rockhopper
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Lower Gila Box, Dry Canyon

Post by Rockhopper » Wed Oct 31, 2018 4:05 pm

Been awhile since I posted on the forum -- I've been busy with retirement, moving into a new city, etc.

Laura and I drove around the southwest in August (2018). One of our camps was in the Lower Gila Box conservation area, in Arizona, not far from the small town of Safford.

We explored a small canyon, named Dry Canyon. Just as we were coming into the first interesting stretch, we surprised a peccary. It didn't bolt for the hills, as others had done. It -- she -- hung around, making little runs toward us and cough-barking. If you look closely, you can see her among the boulders, in the image below.

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It turned out she had piglets under the overhanging cliff. We finally heard them squealing. So we retreated, and climbed out of the canyon. A view of Mama Peccary's Stronghold is below.

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We were able to get back into the canyon a half-mile beyond. The rock is volcanic ash on top of conglomerate, with a layer of more recent conglomerate on top of that (not shown). A couple of the pictures below show thin layers of water-laid ash, with a more massive ashfall on top.

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The canyon forks, and the right fork turns into a pretty little slot canyon. The left side isn't narrow, just a nice walk. Both run out into open gullies after a few hundred yards.

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We checked out a couple of other canyons in the area, but they weren't so very photogenic. Got stung by wild bees in one of them, and surprised a bunch of peccary in another. That canyon looked (and smelled!) like a real pig encampment!

bluegreen kayak
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Re: Lower Gila Box, Dry Canyon

Post by bluegreen kayak » Wed Oct 31, 2018 4:54 pm

Thanks, that was an interesting post. Another place to check out someday. I understand the peccary's behaviour, but why did the bees sting you?

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Rockhopper
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Re: Lower Gila Box, Dry Canyon

Post by Rockhopper » Wed Oct 31, 2018 5:06 pm

The underlying cause was my inattention. I saw them coming and going from a hole in the cliff, and ambled over to take a look. I think that when they saw movement they decided to defend the hive. I can still run pretty fast over rocks, if bees are chasing me.

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MojaveGeek
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Re: Lower Gila Box, Dry Canyon

Post by MojaveGeek » Thu Nov 01, 2018 6:03 am

You were probably wise not to push that mother peccary. Though as you rightly point out, they usually run, they can cause damage to humans. There was a case some years ago where someone got gored at the Sonora Desert Museum in Tucson, and tried to sue the museum (she was near the peccary exhibit) but they were able to show it had not been one of theirs, case closed (and they have lots of signs warning that you are out in the desert, snakes, etc).

As for the bees, my concern would be that the "Africanized" strains have moved pretty far north into Arizona. They make me pretty nervous. My understanding is that bees get most aggressive if you are straight outside their entrance hole, i.e. in the main flight path.

Nice pix, looks like a nice place. Despite the smell, it is always fun to see peccaries.

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Rockhopper
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Re: Lower Gila Box, Dry Canyon

Post by Rockhopper » Thu Nov 01, 2018 1:44 pm

Yes, MojaveGeek, peccaries... the ones we saw moved like elastic lumps of pure muscle and gristle. Of course, they're game animals, and most of them act like it. When we surprised them they usually blasted out of a thicket at a dead run, and only paused when they had cover between us and them.

Where have you seen them?

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MojaveGeek
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Re: Lower Gila Box, Dry Canyon

Post by MojaveGeek » Thu Nov 08, 2018 6:07 pm

I've seen them around metro Tucson (both east side and west side in the foothills), and in various ranges to the south, like the Santa Ritas and west of there along the Mexican border. Oh yes and in Tucson metro along Old Spanish Trail near its western end, though that is not in the city limits proper. Supposedly they are also along the Texas side of the Rio Grande but I've not really spent much time there.

Interestingly, another name is Javelina, and this is what one web site has to say about that: " Indeed, the name javelina, Spanish for javelin, derived from the collared peccary’s spear-like upper canines, teeth that appear quite formidable. " I have a lower jaw bone and indeed those teeth are not to be messed with.

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