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Video: Coyote Spotted in Arlington County

by ARLnow.com April 3, 2012 at 4:06 pm 9,286 68 Comments

After years of reports of coyote sightings in various parts of north Arlington, county naturalists finally have visual proof of their existence.

From a county press release:

Just last week, a game camera at Potomac Overlook Regional Park, in Arlington, took the first video of an Arlington coyote. “We’ve had reports of them for years now, mostly in north Arlington, along the Potomac River, but couldn’t get any proof,” said County Natural Resources Manager Alonso Abugattas. “The public has sent us several pictures claiming coyotes but they were all either dogs or mangy foxes.”

What brings coyotes, long an iconic image of the West -– and paired with the Roadrunner in a beloved series of cartoons — to Arlington? Abugattas believes that our highly urbanized, densely populated County might actually be attractive to coyotes, who are skillful scavengers.

“Coyotes will make a living wherever they can find food, even in big cities,” he said. “I think they are here to stay.”

Arlington’s coyotes have proven to be very cautious and wary of people. They move around primarily at night, according to naturalists.

“Coyotes are very good at avoiding people, so residents shouldn’t be overly concerned,” Cliff Fairweather, a naturalist at the Long Branch Nature Center, said in a statement. “The key is for resident to not feed them or to encourage them not to be afraid of people. The longer they are afraid of people, the better it will be for coyotes and people.”

  • WestoverAndOver

    Who wants to knock a Donaldson Run joke out of the park?

    • Map reader

      Just to be perfectly clear, Potomac Overlook park REALLY IS located in Donaldson Run. Just look at a map.

  • Wyle E. Coyote

    Dammit – I told you guys to keep your heads down!

  • nom de guerre

    The comments sometimes found on this website are evidence enough that Arlington has a significant coyote population.

    • Elmer

      Can anyone identify where we can find a concentrated cougar population in Arlington?

      • Arlington Rooftop

        … just saying

        • Tabs

          I was just reading my Kindle, minding my own business.

      • x

        I do quite well at Carlyle.

        • Oh good one

          Good point… Shirlington could easily be re-named cougar town

  • brendan

    cool capture.

    saw one two years ago late at night near spout run but haven’t seen any since.

  • Geezer

    You surely meant coyote ugly. Plenty of those in Arlington, and surely only a matter of time before Ballston gets one of the bars.

    • Salmon Ella

      haha! I think they have a few already.

      • awh hells bells

        Bailey’s = dung heap

  • ACME


    have we got a deal for you!!

  • Salmon Ella

    He has been in my yard, although I have not seen him this year.

  • SamsontheCat

    Look out DC. Our coyotes will eat your rats.

  • South Awwwlington

    Chicken anyone?

  • SouthPikeGuy

    And bringing chickens into backyards will just bring these animals closer to contact with humans. Not a good idea.

    • Archerrules

      Wrong. You are just wrong.

      • tad

        Are you denying zoology?

      • Steamboat Willie

        I tend to lean towards the pro-chicken coop position, but how do you deny that having coops in backyards will attract coyotes to those backyards and therefore closer to humans?

        • drax

          Would it be any more likely to attract them than squirrels, birds, small dogs, cats and garbage cans?

          The factor is how scared they are of humans. If they’re scared, a chicken won’t bring them. If they aren’t, they’ll come with or without chickens.

          • tad

            Ah yes, all coyotes are the same. They are all afraid of humans and nothing will ever change.

            Coyotes are one of the most adaptable and opportunistic predators around. Which is exactly why they are willing to migrate into populated areas.

            But you seem to have some training in predatory behavior patterns, so maybe you can explain why they would not adapt their behavior over time in response to changing food opportunities.

          • Arlingtonian

            If the County ever permits people to keep chickens in yards, you won’t see any more coyotes in the County. The chicken’s owners will poison them and any other varmints (foxes, hawks, loose dogs and cats, etc.) as soon as they see the blood, guts and feathers.

    • drax

      Then it’s time to ban birdfeeders and small yappy dogs too.

  • Dude Where’s My Car

    Well I think this finally explains the boulders falling onto the GW Parkway near Spout Run. Also the curious beige piles in the middle of the road labeled “FREE BIRDSEED.”

    • Arlingtonian

      I love this

      • drax

        I saw an ACME anvil at Spout Run.

    • Military Road Mom

      Best Forum Response Ever (by Dude Where’s My Car)…

      • JB

        I seem to remember someone giving that title in the thread about ghosts a couple of weeks ago in response to novasteve – how do we know you considered other “best response evers” from the past in this nomination, and your capitializing the first letter of every word isn’t just a bunch of fluff?

    • other side of the river



    Watch out for folk singers hiking in Nova Scotia? FREDTERP

  • Garden City

    I believe in live and let live, so long as one of them doesn’t try to drop an anvil on my head.

  • Vincent Verweij

    Maybe the deer will finally have some kind of natural predator.

  • drax

    Dear Mr. Coyote,

    Don’t drink the water in Four Mile Run for a week or so.

  • alex1138

    We had a coyote in our yard the Summer before last.

  • DarkHeart

    Looks more like a chupacabra.

  • moocha

    call awla

    • drax

      Yeah, good point – I don’t see a leash on that thing.

  • PUP

    owhooooooo ow ow ow owhhhhhooooooooo *howls at fellow canine*

    • drax

      I was wondering when you’d do that.

  • nquebec

    Heard it about a month ago around 3 a.m. confirmation that i wasn’t just having crazy dreams

  • tumblebum

    “County naturalists” (is that a nudist?) need to get out more often. Coyotes have been a fairly regular sight in our neighborhood for more than 5 years. AND I can tell you that they are not all that “cautious and wary of people”.
    It seems as though they roam along the I-66 wall and keep the cat population down.

    • tumbledumb

      For a species to be as common as the coyote and be a surprise to people that they’re around most definitely means they are “cautious and wary” – that doesn’t mean you’ll never see one, or that there won’t be an occasional coyote that takes up residence in a less than ideal place where it will be exposed more than it would probably like. But as long as there are people, and pets, and garbage, and bird feeders, etc. there will always be a number of otherwise “wild” species you don’t normally see that become opportunists as a survival strategy.

  • Mot

    What shocks me is that there are people surprised by this – coyotes are native to pretty much the entire U.S. and have been here all along.

  • Jim

    I saw a pair of coyotes running along the riverbank at the end of Donaldson Run on Christmas Day in the late 90’s or early 00’s. I didn’t think anything of it because I didn’t know they were not common. And they weren’t foxes, I’m from California where they are very common, and I know what I saw.

  • Roadrunner

    Coyote attacks on humans are uncommon and rarely cause serious injuries, due to the relatively small size of the coyote. However, coyote attacks on humans have increased since 1998 in the state of California. Data from USDA Wildlife Services, the California Department of Fish & Game, and other sources show that while 41 attacks occurred during the period of 1988–1997, 48 attacks were verified from 1998 through 2003. The majority of these incidents occurred in Southern California near the suburban-wildland interface.

    In the absence of the harassment of coyotes practiced by rural people, urban coyotes are losing their fear of humans, which is further worsened by people intentionally feeding coyotes. In such situations, some coyotes have begun to act aggressively toward humans, chasing joggers and bicyclists, confronting people walking their dogs, and stalking small children.

    • Quoth the Raven

      Very true. See FREDTERP’s link above.

      And citing FREDTERP is always good, because his/her posts are always brilliant.

    • Nancy Bailey

      I watched a documentary about the singer hiking in Nova Scotia who was stalked and killed by coyotes that — unusually and alarmingly — treated her like prey and began dining on her while she was still alive and conscious. I hope Long Branch naturalist Cliff Fairweather, the guy quoted as saying, “Coyotes are very good at avoiding people, so residents shouldn’t be overly concerned,” has a chance to watch the same film. For one thing, the film noted that the coyotes who killed the girl were bigger and heavier than western coyotes…and the release from Arlington County said that “our” coyotes also are of the larger eastern variety. I found the documentary darned unsettling…particularly given that I saw a coyote in broad daylight a couple of years ago in Alexandria, near the Hoffman movie theaters. And, yes, let’s just get this out of the way: It probably had been trying to sneak inside to watch a Roadrunner cartoon.

      • tad

        True, when coyotes are stalking prey they lock in and become very aggressive. There are plenty of reports from incidents where they were harassing humans about how ineffective it is to try and ward them off once they lock in on a victim. Yelling, blowing car horns, they don’t care once they have something they want to eat.

        Hopefully the county will consider some specific efforts to educate the public about how they can discourage coyote – human interactions. Management strategies for urban coyote populations are nothing new. We can learn plenty from other areas that are already dealing with this.

      • Hattie McDaniel

        “New DNA analysis of coyote poop shows for the first time that some coyotes in the state of Virginia are also part wolf. Scientists think these animals are coyote-wolf hybrids that traveled south from New England along the Appalachian Mountains”


  • Cyrus

    While watching the video I was waiting for the screaming face to appear on the screen. CYRUS

  • SouthArlJD

    What’s the big deal? It’s old news that there are coyotes in Arlington. Several months ago one Saturday I saw a coyote on Rte 50 between Fort Myer and the Courthouse Road exit. Poor thing was up against the barrier wall next to the far right lane in the eastbound lanes and a couple of police cars were parked in the lanes next to him and the traffic funneled through the left lanes past him. I even sent an email to ArlingtonDOTNow, and NEVER got a response … arhem. I think the cops were waiting for animal control to come and do something about the critter.

    • We cannot reply to anonymous tips because they are, by their nature, anonymous. Your email address is not recorded.

      • SouthArlJD

        How do I record my email address? I know I didn’t file it as anonymous. I gave you my name in the email. Besides, the point is that no one seemed to have checked it out.

        • It was submitted as an anonymous tip on Saturday, April 2, 2011. There was no name or email address given, so there was unfortunately no way follow up or verify the tip.

  • SouthArlJD

    Now, if y’all want to talk about foxes those things are all over Arlington. A few weeks ago I saw one making his way across Fort Myer Drive and in the general direction of the Iwo Jima Memorial. A couple of Sundays ago I was on Forest Drive near Baileys Crossroads and one crossed the street right in front of me and ran through a yard. I’ve only seen red foxes – beautiful creatures – but hide your cats and your yappy little dogs.

  • Caroline Belle

    pls don’t eat my kitty

  • Caroline Belle

    um, i meant pls coyote do not eat my maine coon cat that i let outside every day (he is much happier when i let him out once in a while) get your minds out of the gutter.

  • gnushell

    Glad my Maine Coon doesn’t go out, but I worry about my neighbor’s cats. I saw a coyote in Westover last year, as well as a few mangy looking foxes. I’m sure they all went after the surplus rabbit population we had, since I’ve not see many bunnies this year.

  • wildlife

    it’s good to see any and all wildlife in arlington. people need to stop being so afraid of everything.

    • Quoth the Raven

      Which sounds good, until the coyote kills and eats you.


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