Christmas has been saved for one Arlington household, after a raccoon tried to block Santa’s impending arrival.
As the video above shows, the Humane Society was recently called to a home to help “evict” the raccoon from the chimney. Said Humane Society of the United States spokeswoman Kaitlin Sanderson:
“As stockings are being hung, trees decorated and children anxiously await the arrival of Santa Claus, one home owner in Arlington needed help making sure Santa could deliver presents Christmas morning. The Humane Society of the United States’ Humane Wildlife Services was called to help an Arlington family with ‘Raccoon Claus,’ a little raccoon who decided to turn Santa’s entry-way into his home for the winter.”
A division of the Humane Society of the United States recently helped an Arlington household that had a family of raccoons trapped in their basement and chimney.
Experts from Humane Wildlife Services, a wildlife conflict solution service provided to homeowners and businesses in the Washington, D.C. area, helped remove the raccoons from the home, then helped reunite the raccoon family — a mom and her four babies — while ensuring that they found a new home.
The Humane Society produced a video about the incident. The video “really shows the strength of the maternal bond between a raccoon mom and her young,” according to a narrator.
A resident of the High View Park neighborhood, just north of Virginia Hospital Center, tells us that neighbors have been buzzing with talk of a bunny boom.
“I’ve noticed something odd in Arlington this summer and the more I talk to other residents the more aware I become that this is happening all over the county (at least north Arlington, anyway). Namely, there has been an explosion in the rabbit population this year,” he writes. “I’m used to bunny sightings being a very rare thing, but this year I keep seeing them on a regular basis. I’m spotting rabbits more frequently than I have spotted squirrels.”
Those observations are backed up by Arlington County Parks spokesman Nathan Spillman, who confirms that naturalists have observed a rapidly increasing rabbit population.
“It is indeed a boom year for rabbits in the county,” Spillman said, “Rabbit populations here are cyclical and about every seven or eight years you see a large spike in the population followed by a relatively steep (and quick) decrease as the boom attracts predators like foxes and hawks which bring the population down… It’s likely the decline will start to become noticeable as early as this November,”
According to a just-released inventory of wildlife in Arlington, the rabbit population in Arlington (made up mostly of Eastern Cottontails, pictured) typically moves in cycles with the population of its primary predator, the fox. That’s consistent with anecdotal evidence cited by Sean, our tipstser.
“[A relative] who lives near Marymount University mentioned that she has seen dead foxes on the road numerous times and speculated that the loss of these predators might have resulted in the rabbit increase,” Sean wrote. “That seems to tie in with this article about the loss of predators in general.”
The population boom may not be limited to Arlington. Earlier this month, a Washington City Paper article declared that “bunnies are everywhere” in parts of Montgomery County and Northwest D.C.
“The manicured lawns of Chevy Chase are covered with rabbit families munching away on annuals and woody plants in the early morning,” a member of a neighborhood listserv is quoted as writing. “Early runs in various neighborhoods sometime remind me of Watership Down or the ‘tribbles’ in one of those Star Trek episodes.”
Photo via Wikipedia
The funds will allow Arlington and Alexandria to create new wetland areas near the stream, thus adding needed habitat, enhancing aesthetics and improving water quality.
“This federal grant will help us fund the crucial first phase of the comprehensive restoration of Four Mile Run,” Arlington County Board Chairman Christopher Zimmerman said in a statement. “Restoration of the wetland and stream banks in tidal Four Mile Run, which we expect to begin work on next year, is central to the effort to return the stream to a more natural, better functioning waterway that will serve people from across the region.
Arlington’s estimated share of the larger Four Mile Run Tidal Restoration Project is $3.7 million, including federal funds.
“The Four Mile Run watershed encompasses approximately two-thirds of Arlington County and forms the southern border with the City of Alexandria, creating a shared waterfront resource,” the county said in a press release. “The tidal restoration project is the central element of a comprehensive effort by the two communities, with the help of the federal government, to restore the lower section Four Mile Run, which was channelized by the Army Corps of Engineers in the 1970s.”
An oasis of wetlands and wildlife, tucked between the office towers of Ballston and the traffic of I-66, is safe from highway construction impacts, the county’s Department of Environmental Services says.
The Ballston Beaver Pond, as it’s called, was initially designed to collect stormwater runoff from I-66. But that started to change in the 1990s when beavers moved in and dammed up the drainage system, creating a pond and wetlands to form. The Beaver Pond is now a habitat frequented by muskrat, geese, ducks, heron, egrets, redwing blackbirds, fish, turtles and the occasional beaver.
The Beaver Pond is located next to a bike trail that connects Ballston and the Custis Trail, just north of the ramp from Fairfax Drive to I-66.
Residents of the nearby Waycroft Woodlawn neighborhood have become fond of the pond and became worried when a bulldozer arrived in the area as part of the I-66 widening project. But not to fear says Aileen Winquist, of the county’s Environmental Management Bureau.
“The Beaver Pond is not in danger from the current I-66 spot improvement project and widening of westbound I-66,” Winquist said in an email.
Winquist noted that the design work on a planned restoration of the Beaver Pond will begin this fall. The restoration will clean up trash and sediment from the pond and provide better water quality treatment. There will be several public meetings held to educate residents about the project.
Although the Beaver Pond will be largely unaffected by the I-66 widening, a VDOT-owned stormwater retention pond across the street will be impacted. Construction is planned for the facility, but details about the exact nature of the work were not immediately available.
More photos after the jump.
With all this talk of blizzards and groundhogs seeing their shadows, now might be a good time to willfully escape from reality and dream about spring (which is exactly a month and a half away.) Tonight, naturalist Greg Zell will lead a presentation about the wide variety of natural habitats and unique wildlife that reside within Arlington’s borders. Imagine, while everybody else is fighting for bread, milk and toilet paper at the grocery store, you can be learning about natural wonders that exist in your own backyard.
Starts at 7:00 PM
Arlington Central Library Auditorium
1015 N. Quincy Street
(2 blocks from Virginia Square Metro)