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'It tore all the tendons in my left arm, I couldn't move my fingers': Javelina attacks Phoenix woman

Nicole Hansen has a warning for others after she was charged and attacked by a javelina while walking her dogs.
Credit: Nicole Hansen

PHOENIX — Nicole Hansen said she was attacked by a javelina in North Phoenix while walking her three dogs on May 4 around 8 p.m. 

She wants to share her experience now so no one else has to go through the same pain. 

"It bit my arm and it wouldn’t let go, and I’m screaming of course," she explained of the scary encounter. 

She's had two surgeries since. 

"It tore all the tendons in my left arm so I couldn’t move any of my fingers and then chipped bone," she continued. "Then I had all the puncture wounds in the back and those healed on their own."

Hansen said the javelina was in a bush on Deer Valley Road between Black Canyon and 40th Street when it happened. 

"I tried to make myself really big, I was like 'OK maybe it's like a bear,' so I put my arms up and kind of made noise." 

It worked the first time around but then she said it came back when she was chasing down her dogs she accidentally let off the leash while panicking over the javelina.  

"Out of nowhere it hit me from behind, it just came out of nowhere and rammed me from behind and it knocked me to the ground."

The javelina bit her arm while on the ground. 

"At any point in time did you think you were going to die," Team 12's Jess Winters asked. 

"Yes," Hansen responded. "When it had a hold of my arm, for sure, I was like this is it."

But she was able to get ahold of a tree branch to fight it off then ran toward traffic where some drivers helped her out. 

"I will never walk in the dark ever again."

What should you do if you encounter a javelina?

We went to the experts at Wildlife World Zoo and Aquarium for answers.  

Turns out Hansen did the right thing. 

"It is good to be really loud if you encounter some of this wildlife, sometimes just clapping and yelling and being loud is all you need to do for them to run in the opposite direction," Kristy Morcom with Wildlife World Zoo said. "If you see a javelina you want pick your dog up if it's small enough and go the other way."

Morcom said she’s surprised the javelina went after Hansen and not her dogs. 

"I would attribute it to the poor eyesight, they probably smelt the dogs and felt threatened and if she didn't see the javelina, it probably didn't see her initially and it was an instinctual response."

When are you most likely to see javelinas?

"They are active dawn and dusk or at nighttime so whenever you're out at night or early mornings, you want to be aware you're out at the same time wildlife is out because they live in the same environment as we do, and you want to take all the necessary precautions."

Are javelina attacks on the rise?

"They're a very widespread species and unfortunately as Arizona grows we are encroaching in their environment and we're hearing about more and more javelina encounters. There have been some attacks that have happened recently and we attribute that to a couple of different reasons. The number one cause for attacks is the public feeding javelina which is detrimental to the species. People think they're doing them a favor by feeding them but you're not, they're losing their natural fear of humans, they're getting more comfortable, they're seeking out humans looking for food and javelina can be very aggressive and very territorial."

Are these javelinas attacking because they're rabid?

"Most people think a javelina has to be rabid to attack you and that's true for a lot of wildlife. However, now that this wildlife is getting comfortable around humans we're having a lot more encounters and attacks and it's not always because they're rabid."

Hansen said her attack was completely unprovoked, with no feeding involved. 

Her warning to others: be aware of your surroundings and carry safety supplies like a horn. 

"There's a lot of desert in North Phoenix but also a lot of houses and a lot of people," Hansen described. "I see people walking at night now with little kids and dogs and I think that's not a good idea because javelinas are dangerous and I don't really think people get how dangerous they are, so now I carry a horn to scare them away and bear mace."

Arizona Game and Fish contacted Hansen, and she said at last check the javelina that attacked her has not been located.  

Watch the story below:

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