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Morning Notes

An airliner leaving DCA is reflected in a building in Rosslyn (staff photo by Jay Westcott)

Gun Violence Rally Planned — “A National Gun Violence Awareness Day rally will be held Saturday in Arlington. The rally will be held by the Virginia chapter of Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America, a group that supports stricter gun laws, at 5 p.m. on Saturday at Hope Garden near Courthouse Plaza in Arlington.” [Patch]

Animal Control Rescues Bald Eagle — From the Animal Welfare League of Arlington: “Our animal control officers were all very surprised this weekend when a call about a large bird behaving oddly turned out to be a fledgeling bald eagle! He is now with a licensed wildlife rehabber and when he’s feeling better we hope to release him back into the wild!” [Twitter]

Blood Drive this Weekend — “Fire Works American Pizzeria and Bar is partnering with Inova Blood Donor Services to host an Arlington Community Blood Drive on Monday, June 6.” [Patch]

Pride Month Events at Library — Pride Month starts today and Arlington Public Library has a page with LGBTQIA+ book lists, stories and history discussions. The library is also hosting a series of Pride Month events. [Arlington Public Library]

It’s Wednesday — Partly cloudy throughout the day. High of 89 and low of 73. Sunrise at 5:46 am and sunset at 8:29 pm. [Weather.gov]

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Fox in an Arlington yard (file photo)

Arlington has another fox rabies case — maybe two.

A sick fox captured by animal control along Washington Blvd, between East Falls Church and Westover, has tested positive for rabies, according to an announcement from the Animal Welfare League of Arlington. Another sick fox was seen on video, taken in the neighborhood surrounding Wakefield High School, but has not been located, AWLA said.

Those incidents follow AWLA’s warning last week of a potentially rabid fox in the Arlingwood neighborhood, as well as a similar warning in early February after an aggressive fox attacked pets and, reportedly, at least one person in the Gulf Branch neighborhood.

ALWA, which handles animal control for Arlington County, said that residents should remain vigilant, take precautions with pets, and contact the animal control office immediately if they see “any animal that appears sick, lethargic, disoriented, or aggressive.”

More from AWLA, below.

Confirmed rabid fox in Highland Park neighborhood: on Wednesday April 27th, 2022 in the afternoon Arlington County Animal Control received a call about a sick fox in the 6200 block of Washington Boulevard. The fox had neurological signs consistent with rabies, and was captured and removed by Animal Control after exposing a domestic pet. The fox was tested and came back clinically positive for rabies.

Additionally, Animal Control was recently provided footage of a potentially sick fox in the Claremont neighborhood. That footage was provided 4 days after the event, and therefore no fox has been located and no other sightings have occurred at this time. Rabies is a disease that people and animals can catch from the bite or scratch of infected animals. It is fatal if medical care is not given promptly. If you, your child, or your pet may have come into contact with this fox or any wild animal, please call Arlington County Animal Control at 703-931-9241 immediately, after hours please stay on the line to speak with the answering service who will alert an officer.

Residents are encouraged to:

  • Ensure pets are up to date on their rabies and distemper vaccines.
  • Keep dogs on a leash at all times and keep cats inside.
  • Check backyards before letting pets or children outside and monitor them at all times.
  • Do not approach or feed any wild animals.
  • Feed pets inside.
  • Remove wildlife attractants from yards, such as unsecured garbage cans, open containers of food, and compost.

Animal Control is also urging all residents in Arlington County to remain vigilant and if they see any animal that appears sick, lethargic, disoriented, or aggressive to stay away from the animal and call Animal Control immediately: 703-931-9241. If you come across a deceased rabies vector animal (including cats, dogs, foxes, raccoons, bats and groundhogs) in your yard or a public space please also contact Animal Control promptly and do not handle the animal.

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Fox in a backyard in 2018 (Flickr pool photo by GM and MB)

A fox with “neurological signs consistent with rabies” has been captured this morning in the Arlingwood neighborhood near Chain Bridge, officials say.

The Animal Welfare League of Arlington is warning residents, particularly those in the area where the fox was found, to keep pets inside or on a leash — and to keep those pets up to date on rabies and distemper vaccines. If people or their pets potentially came into contact with the fox, they’re being encouraged to call animal control.

More from an AWLA social media post:

*Notice to Arlington Co residents* – on April 26, 2022 at approximately 7:45am, Arlington County Animal Control responded to calls about a disoriented fox in the Arlingwood neighborhood near the 4100 blocks of 41 St and Randolph Street N, south-east of Chain Bridge Rd and George Washington Pkwy. The fox had neurological signs consistent with rabies, and was captured and removed by Animal Control. Rabies is a disease that people and animals can catch from the bite or scratch of infected animals. It is fatal if medical care is not given promptly. If you, your child, or your pet may have come into contact with this fox, please call Arlington County Animal Control at (703) 931-9241 immediately.

Residents are encouraged to: ensure pets are up to date on their rabies and distemper vaccines – keep dogs on a leash at all times and keep cats inside – do not approach or feed any wild animals – feed pets inside – remove wildlife attractants from yards, such as unsecured garbage cans, open containers of food, and compost.

Arlington County Animal Control is also urging residents to remain vigilant and to stay away from any animal that appears sick, lethargic, disoriented, or aggressive and call Animal Control immediately at (703) 931-9241. If you come across a deceased rabies-vector animal (including cats, dogs, foxes, raccoons, and groundhogs) in your yard or a public space, do not handle the animal and Animal Control immediately.

In February an “aggressive” fox that bit a toddler was captured by animal control in the Gulf Branch neighborhood, which is just down Military Road from Arlingwood. That fox was also thought to be rabid.

Earlier this month a rabid fox bit nine people on Capitol Hill before it was captured and euthanized. The fox’s kits were also euthanized.

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The crow that was shot by a blow dart Tuesday morning (photo courtesy AWLA)

Arlington’s animal control office is trying to figure out who shot a crow with a blow dart in Fairlington this morning.

Several people in the neighborhood called police and the Animal Welfare League of Arlington (AWLA) around 11 a.m. this morning to report the incident. Animal control officers found a crow that had been critically injured by the dart, which was apparently shot from a blow gun.

The crow is now en route to a wildlife center for surgery, but it’s unclear whether it will survive, AWLA said. In a statement, below, the organization said shooting a crow is illegal under the Federal Migratory Bird Act and “will not be tolerated in Arlington County.”

The incident happened about three weeks after commercial property owners in nearby Shirlington started using an artificial fog to try to get a large murder of migratory crows to flock elsewhere. The wintering crows and their prodigious droppings on local sidewalks and vehicles are a long-standing issue in Shirlington, dating back to at least 2017.

More on this morning’s blow dart shooting and its aftermath, from AWLA, is below.

Today at approximately 11am, our officers and 911 Dispatch Center received multiple calls from the public about a crow that had been shot in a Fairlington neighborhood. Our animal control officers immediately responded and found a critically injured crow who had been shot with a blow-gun. Officers brought him back to AWLA for triage where they cut off the barb from the dart and applied basic wound care. One of our officers then began the drive to a wildlife center where the crow will undergo surgery to remove the dart. The officer is currently still on route to the center and unfortunately there is a chance the crow. may not survive the drive. Thankfully, our officers have checked the area and have not found any more injured animals.

“This is why we put so much time and emphasis on teaching tolerance and harmonious coexistence with wildlife. When groups, associations, or organizations teach intolerance for living things, our native wildlife pays the price.” ~ Jennifer Toussaint, Chief of Animal Control.

Crows are protected under the Federal Migratory Bird Act. This type of activity is illegal and will not be tolerated in Arlington County. We are asking that anyone who may have seen any related activity in the area over the past 8-12 hours to please call our Animal Control team at (703) 931-9241.

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Each night this week, an artificial fog will roll through the Village at Shirlington.

Its purpose is to get a murder of crows, which once again wintered in Arlington — doing their business near the Shirlington businesses — to leave and not return when roosting begins again in October.

The descent of crows on Shirlington for the winter is an annual occurrence going back to at least 2017 and leading to a bombardment of droppings on cars, mailboxes, trash cans, sidewalks, patios and tables.

This year, Federal Realty Investment Trust, which owns the retail center at 2700 S. Quincy Street, is trying a new way to deter the persistent perchers and their prolific pooping.

“Federal Realty has partnered with a wildlife management company to implement a Passive Deterrent System to mitigate the nuisance issues and community property damage caused by large flocks of roosting crows,” a spokeswoman for FRIT said. “This system deploys a fog to targeted areas within the tree canopy. This is a humane and non-lethal means to relocate these specific large flocks of crows.”

The fog was first released this past Monday and will be emitted every evening from 7:30-9:30 p.m. until this coming Monday.

More information from FRIT was distributed to residents of a nearby apartment complex and obtained by ARLnow.

The fog “has been a successful approach for several communities, companies and agencies, including the FBI Headquarters, Miami International Airport and the Smithsonian,” FRIT told local residents. “We feel very confident that this process will be an effective strategy to relocate the roosting birds on [the] property and discourage them from returning to roost in the future.”

The fogging has raised concerns for Diva Crows, an organization in Northern Virginia that cares for injured crows and ravens. The Animal Welfare League of Arlington, which handles animal control for the county, meanwhile, is keeping tabs on the situation to see if the fog causes an increase in injured or dead crows.

Sam Sparks, who works for Diva Crows, says this fog is made of a vaporized chemical called methyl anthranilate.

The chemical — which produces a grape odor — irritates the pain receptors associated with birds’ senses of taste and smell, according to one bird repellent company.

“There are two separate concerns,” Sparks says. “One is human exposure to the pesticide, for which there are limited studies on the toxicity to mammals. People have the right to know that they will be exposed to this for the next seven consecutive days that the fog will be deployed.”

Sparks added that this is “baby season” for wild birds, and the deterrent could lead parents to abandon their fledgling offspring, leading to dead baby crows littering Shirlington sidewalks.

It may also not drive them away for good, as crows are adaptable and have to be outsmarted through variable and unpredictable deterrence strategies.

AWLA spokeswoman Chelsea Jones said the animal control agency became aware of the deterrent efforts after receiving several complaints from citizens and business owners about the volume of bird poop.

“We have spoken with the property managers to offer other humane deterrent methods, and have also been in contact with local and state agencies,” Jones said. “This is a legal deterrent method and we have been assured that there is no risk to human or wildlife health.”

Around this time, crows are set to begin their migration, so residents should see a natural, temporary decrease in the local crow population “very soon,” Jones said.

“We have not found any deceased or injured crows thus far, but our Animal Control team continues to monitor the situation,” she said.

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Morning Notes

Preservation Legislation Shuffled — “After a subcommittee approved a measure being sought to give preservation advocates an additional voice in decisions made at the local level, but simultaneously stripped out some key provisions of the bill, its sponsor made a request. Would the House Committee on Counties, Cities and Towns, where the measure was being considered, agree to move the bill to the Committee on Courts of Justice, Del. Patrick Hope asked.” [Sun Gazette]

Don’t Drive Drunk on Super Bowl Sunday — “To keep spectators safe on the roads, the Arlington County Police Department is teaming up with the U.S. Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) to remind football fans everywhere that Fans Don’t Let Fans Drive Drunk… in 2019, there were 10,142 people killed in alcohol-impaired-driving crashes throughout the United States.” [ACPD]

Yogurt Cup Recycling Confusion — Can you recycle small plastic yogurt cups, like those used by Activia and other brands? That’s a solid maybe, according to the Arlington Dept. of Environmental Services. Previously, the county has released publications that alternately described yogurt cups as recyclable and not recyclable. [Twitter]

Injured Squirrel Returns to Fairlington — “Last week, our Animal Control team took in a badly injured squirrel who who received life-saving care at [Blue Ridge Wildlife Center]. Today, Officer Ballena released the now-healthy squirrel back into the wild, very close to where he was found. He was very ready to be back in the wild where he belongs! ” [Facebook]

Kudos for Local Crossing Guard — “Shashu Gebre, Crossing Guard at both Alice West Fleet and Long Branch Elementary Schools, has been recognized by the Virginia Department of Transportation’s Safe Routes to School (VA SRTS) program as one of Virginia’s Most Outstanding Crossing Guards for the 2021-22 school year. The honor is part of Crossing Guard Appreciation Week, an annual Safe Routes to School celebration recognizing Crossing Guards for the critical role they play in the safe routes to school network.’ [Arlington Public Schools, Twitter]

Changes to Electoral Board — “Weinstein, who like [newly-elected Arlington Electoral Board Chair Kim] Phillip is a Democrat on the body, turned over the reins because, come December, he will depart when Republicans pick up a second seat due to the election of Glenn Youngkin as governor. State law requires electoral boards to be composed of two members of the governor’s party, one from the opposing party. Weinstein will serve as vice chair for the remainder of his term, while Republican Scott McGeary will retain his post as secretary.” [Sun Gazette]

Sunday Snow Likely to Be Light — “Our spell of springlike weather will come to a sudden halt Saturday night as a cold front barges through the region, setting the stage for a possible light snowfall early Sunday morning. Right now this doesn’t look like a big deal for several reasons.” [Capital Weather Gang]

It’s Friday — Today will be sunny, with a high near 62 and wind gusts as high as 30 mph. Sunrise at 7:02 a.m., sunset at 5:43 a.m. Saturday will be partly sunny, with a high near 58. Sunday we’ll see snow and some rain in the morning, then partly sunny with a high near 37. [Weather.gov]

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Deer in Bluemont Park (Flickr pool photo by Dennis Dimick)

The Animal Welfare League of Arlington is bucking the results of a study suggesting the county has a deer problem.

Arlington County hired a consultant last spring to count the local deer population using drones. The company published a report in September saying that parts of Arlington had populations of 20-39 deer per square mile in certain places, exceeding what’s considered healthy (between 5 and 15 deer per square mile).

In a statement released Monday, AWLA, which oversees animal control for Arlington County, disputed the idea that the local deer population reaches unhealthy levels and urged the county to adopt a “practical, humane, and sustainable deer management plan” that doesn’t place too much focus on the numbers.

“From our extensive work in humane wildlife management, we know from experience that the issue is not the number of deer but rather the conflicts we have with them,” AWLA President & CEO Samuel Wolbert and Chief of Animal Control Jennifer Toussaint said.

The joint statement comes as county staff prepare to incorporate this data into a broader look at what steps Arlington needs to take, if any, to maintain a healthy white-tailed deer population.

Wolbert and Toussaint say there’s “scientific basis” for the claim that 5-15 deer per square mile is healthy, arguing no single count of deer qualifies as over-population.

“The fact is, determining a ‘healthy carrying capacity’ is a political judgement that is not rooted in biology: some communities, and even areas within a community, will be able to sustain different numbers of deer based on multiple factors, like type and quality of food and cover,” they said. “There is no one ‘magic’ number that any community should have. Saying Arlington County, with 13 deer per square mile, has too many deer is a political determination and not based on the environment in which the deer are located.”

AWLA leaders say complaints about deer may have precipitated this survey, but of all the calls and online reports their animal control division receives related to wildlife, relatively few involve deer.

Since November 2020, when it launched an online reporting system, AWLA has received over 650 wildlife concerns, and of those, 17 (3%) related to deer. Meanwhile, in 2021, 131 calls of the 2,733 calls for service related to wildlife (or 5%) were deer-related — and the most common concern was about the health of orphaned fawns.

“If there truly were ‘too many deer’ we, as the County’s wildlife experts, would have more deer-related complaints or issues arising from deer — which is simply not the case,” Wolbert and Toussaint said.

As for the argument that deer contribute to the destruction of the forest understory, cited in the report, AWLA leaders argue that deers are unfairly blamed for the impacts of other factors.

“It’s easy to blame deer for any forestry growth woes, when the reality is that forests are affected by many factors: insect damage, disease, pollutants (like harsh fertilizers), invasive species, increased foot traffic, climate and weather extremes, over-development… and deer,” Wolbert and Toussaint write.

In response, Arlington County Department of Parks and Recreation said the survey was just the first step in determining whether Arlington needs to more actively manage deer. Next, the county will hire a professional wildlife consultant to interpret this data and gather additional information to determine if and how deer are impacting the natural landscape, said DPR spokeswoman Susan Kalish.

All this information will guide a public engagement process that will culminate with a presentation to the County Board this summer.

“Deer are necessary aspects of wildlife with important ecological functions when in balance with the surrounding habitat,” Kalish said. “Arlington takes its role as a steward of wildlife and its natural lands seriously.”

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File photo of a fox in Arlington (Flickr pool photo by GM and MB)

(Updated at 10:35 p.m.) A fox terrorized a northern Arlington neighborhood today, prompting a warning about rabies from local authorities.

Police and Arlington animal control started getting calls about an aggressive fox in the Gulf Branch neighborhood this morning. It culminated in a police dispatch for a report of a three-year-old boy being bitten by the fox inside a garage on 33rd Street N., around 2:15 p.m.

The person who reported the incident chased the fox away. There’s no word on how the boy is doing now.

The fox also “had potential contact” with three pets, Arlington County says.

On Wednesday evening, the Animal Welfare League of Arlington told ARLnow that a fox had been captured.

“A fox was captured and removed at approximately 3:25pm today by 3 animal control officers, Sgt. Ballena, Deputy Murray, and Deputy Elpers,” said Jen Toussaint, AWLA’s Chief of Animal Control.

The county’s press release about the fox, from before it was captured, is below.

On Wednesday, Feb. 2, beginning at 10:45 a.m., Arlington County Animal Control and the Arlington County Police Department began received complaints regarding a fox aggressively approaching people and dogs around the 3500 block of N Utah Street and [4500 block] of 33rd Street North. The incidents are believed to involve the same fox.

The fox had potential contact with three domestic pets and bit one human unprovoked causing injury. The fox in question was exhibiting signs and symptoms consistent with rabies. The suspect aggressive fox has not been located or captured at this time.

Rabies is a disease that people and animals can catch from the bite or scratch of infected animals. It is fatal if medical care is not given promptly.

Arlington County Animal Control and the Arlington County Department of Human Services are urging anyone who may have been bitten or scratched by any wild animal, including a fox, to reach out immediately. If you, your children, or your pets had any potential contact with this animal, please call Arlington County Animal Control promptly at 703-931-9241.

Residents are encouraged to:

  • Ensure pets are up to date on their rabies and distemper vaccines
  • Keep dogs on a leash at all times and keep cats inside
  • Do not approach or feed any wild animals
  • Feed pets inside
  • Remove wildlife attractants from yards, such as unsecured garbage cans, open containers of food and compost

What to look out for

Arlington County Animal Control is also urging residents to remain vigilant, and if they see a fox that appears sick, lethargic, disoriented, or aggressive to stay away from the animal and call Animal Control immediately: 703-931-9241.

The County asks that pets and children are not permitted outside unsupervised at this time.

Do not attempt to haze or make loud sounds at this animal. Back away slowly while facing the animal at all times.

If you come across a deceased rabies vector animal (including cats, dogs, foxes, raccoons, and groundhogs) in your yard or a public space, contact Animal Control promptly and do not handle the animal.

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A coyote was spotted in Arlington Forest, near Lubber Run (courtesy of Amy Cocuzza)

A black coyote was sighted near Lubber Run this week, and she may have pups.

While sighting the shy canine is relatively rare, the dark fur of the Arlington Forest coyote is a touch more uncommon. Its coloration is what helped the Animal Welfare League of Arlington identify she was not new to the area.

One Arlington Forest resident called the AWLA, which runs the county’s animal control operation, to report a sighting on Monday, and said the coyote had pups in tow, although officers couldn’t locate her or the young to confirm. On Tuesday, an ARLnow reader Amy Cocuzza caught her on camera in the neighborhood.

Cocuzza reached out to a USDA wildlife specialist, who said the Arlington Forest coyote’s dark fur is uncommon but not rare. Coyotes in the East have tremendous color variation.

AWLA’s Chief of Animal Control Jennifer Toussaint tells ARLnow the Arlington Forest coyote is not the only dark coyote she’s seen in Arlington. She saw her first on Route 110 near Memorial in 2013. She compared the uncommon coloration — known as melanism — to that of the more prevalent black squirrel.

She said the coyote Cocuzza saw is likely female and they became aware of her in Arlington Forest last year.

Previous coyote sightings reported by ARLnow were all of a grey or lighter brown colored canine. A coyote was spotted multiple times wandering around in the Fairlington area in 2020. Coyotes have also been seen moseying along Washington Blvd, and in Potomac Overlook Regional Park, Lubber Run and Cherrydale. In 2014, a coyote was struck by a car near Arlington National Cemetery.

Toussaint called coyotes “highly adaptable opportunists” and said they thrive living near people in suburban and urban settings like Arlington where scavenging for food is easy — taking advantage of pet food or trash left out. But she said the presence of a coyote, which can be active both day and night, isn’t cause for alarm. In fact, there are some benefits like free rodent control.

“Urban coyotes are born right in our neighborhoods and are generally familiar with us, our pets, and our routines,” she said. “Occasionally, a curious coyote may need to be reminded to be wary of people, especially if someone has been feeding them, which is not advised or legal.”

Toussaint recommends “hazing” techniques, such as clapping your hands, raising your voice, blowing a whistle or shaking an aluminum can with pennies inside. She said, while coyotes don’t pose a risk to humans, they should never be handled and pets should be monitored closely and kept current on rabies vaccines.

“We don’t see many interactions or conflicts between coyotes and people or pets, but when we do, it’s usually because someone was startled, so it’s a good idea to practice hazing techniques before allowing a pet in your yard, as well,” she said.

Arlington’s Natural Resource Manager Alonso Abugattas writes that “the Eastern coyote is bigger than those in the West, about the size of a border collie or even German Shepherd, often between 45 to 55lbs” with males usually larger than the females.

The USDA specialist suggested to Cocuzza that the black coyote may be wandering out because it’s their mating season, and “they do tend to be more bold and wander out at this time.”

Hat tip to Amy Cocuzza 

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A rooster has been nabbed by Arlington animal control after a brief stint on the lam.

Yesterday morning, county animal control officers picked up a rooster that was found wandering near Lubber Run Park, southwest of Ballston, and brought it to the Animal Welfare League of Arlington.

The rooster appeared healthy and was found “running in the front and back yards of the houses that backed up [to] Lubber Run,” according to the responding animal control officer.

The rooster will be kept at AWLA during the stray period (typically, five to seven days) where its caretaker can come to claim the bird.

If no one claims it, the organization will find a “specialized sanctuary farm” for the rooster, AWLA Chief Animal Control Officer Jen Toussaint tells ARLnow.

Wandering flightless birds are a common occurrence in Arlington, notes Toussaint, with animal control officers bringing in a decent number every year.

While roosters (and other fowl, like chickens, ducks, turkeys, patridges) are technically legal in Arlington County, there are strict restrictions on where the birds can go and how they can be housed.

“All poultry here in Arlington must be kept in enclosures more than 100 feet from property lines,” Toussaint says. “Given this restriction many residences do not meet the requirement to have backyard chickens.”

Additionally, it’s illegal for fowl to “trespass” onto county-operated property or land owned by another individual. In other words, this fowl was likely running afoul of county law.

Toussaint also warns — for those considering it — that keeping poultry in the backyard requires a whole lot of work, time, and preparation.

“Raising chickens is not easy and they need time, attention, and routine care. If you plan on going on vacations it’s not as easy to find a ‘pet sitter’ for an entire coop of chickens,” Toussaint says.

Chickens graze, so soil testing should be done since urban areas could have high mercury and lead levels. These heavy metals could be found in the eggs the chickens produce which can be harmful if ingested, particularly by young children.

Another common issue that AWLA finds is that too many chickens are being kept in coops that are too small. The birds need, at minimum, a four by four feet of space, Toussaint notes. Too tight quarters increases the risk of disease transmission, including salmonella and E. Coli.

What’s more, roosters and chickens don’t exactly make for great neighbors. They can be loud and their manure can smell, says Toussaint. Chickens can attract rodents and be prey for hungry foxes as well as wander into roadways and become traffic hazards.

It’s for those reasons that a push by backyard chicken advocates a decade ago attracted opposition and laid a proverbial egg, failing to substantially loosen the rules around keeping chickens.

“Please own [chickens] responsibly,” says Toussaint. ” We regularly find them at large and loose in backyards outside of enclosures. Not only is this against county code but it is not neighborly or safe for the chickens.”

Hat tip to Michael Thomas

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A Lyon Village homeowner’s attempt to deter dogs from peeing on his prized bushes has prompted a major controversy on the local Nextdoor social network.

A post about the plastic “spikes” placed between the bushes and the sidewalk prompted outrage, hundreds of comments and even — reportedly — calls to police, despite the fact that it turned out to be a commonly-used product.

Eric Wang says he first became aware of the Nextdoor post when he noticed an ARLnow photographer taking photos of the blunt, somewhat bendy spikes, “as well as a number of people passing by and checking out the mats through the day.”

“I figured something was up, so I looked on Nextdoor and it was at the top of my feed,” he said in an interview over email. “I had stopped using Nextdoor for several months because of toxic content like this.”

The initial post alleged that the spikes — actually a product sometimes called a “scat mat” that’s advertised as an “gentle [way] to scare or irritate animals without harming them” — were “sharp” and could “do some damage to [dog] paws.”

Quickly, dozens of people piled on in condemning the homeowner, who Wang later identified as himself.

Among the comments that followed: “What a nut,” “what a sicko,” “clearly DGAF about anyone besides himself,” “just horrible,” “pure evil,” “pretty sick behavior,” “sociopathic behavior,” “what an ass.”

Wang’s modern home near the intersection of Key Boulevard and N. Adams Street, in the affluent neighborhood north of Clarendon and Courthouse, is distinctive. It has also caught the attention of local residents due to the prickly-worded signs Wang previously posted about dogs peeing on his bushes.

“Dear dog owners: your dog’s piss is killing these shrubs!” said the sign, a photo of which was posted in the Nextdoor thread. “Each of these shrubs costs $300. If you’ve been allowing your dog to piss on these shrubs, please kindly remit compensation for the damage you have caused.”

“After my first set of signs was not well-received, I relented and created a second set of signs (which nobody on Nextdoor bothered to post, which shows an intent to shade the facts here),” Wang told us, recounting how he finally decided to buy the mats.

“The second set of signs was meant to be humorous, and included a graphic of a smiling urinating dog with a red circle and slash through it and the words, ‘Please, no pissing on the shrubs.’ Neither set of signs was particularly effective, and they also weren’t very weatherproof,” Wang wrote. “So I went online and did some research and purchased the scat mats based on the product reviews I read — many of which were posted by pet owners.”

On Nextdoor, numerous people — who post using their verified full name and neighborhood — fretted that children, seniors and those with disabilities could fall and injure themselves on the spikes. They called for the mats to be reported to the authorities, for Wang to be sued, and for other forms of retribution.

  • “I called ACPD”
  • “Needs to be reported and the owners put on notice”
  • “The Animal Welfare League needs to pay this homeowner a visit”
  • “[An animal control officer] said he’ll check it out and make contact with the homeowner to inform them that there are concerns within the community.”
  • “If somebody sent pictures to this guy’s insurance company that might have faster results”
  • “I reported it to Arlington County. If more people do so, we would have a better chance if them doing something about it!”
  • “Has ‘sue me’ written all over it. Hope it happens!”
  • “We could all pee in bottles for a week and pour the contents on their bushes”

At least two people posted that they called police and were told nothing could be done. An Arlington County Police Department spokeswoman said she could find no record of calls regarding the spikes.

“The reaction is completely unhinged,” said Wang, an Ivy League-educated lawyer. (The person who started the thread is also an attorney, according to his LinkedIn profile.)

“The over-the-top… online pile-on represents the modern-day dangers of the Internet mobocracy,” continued Wang. “The knee-jerk reactions show a complete intolerance for facts and hatred for rational thinking. While this is a relatively minor example compared with phenomena like January 6, COVID denial, and anti-vaxxers, it is part of the same social pathology.”

Shortly after Wang started posting comments defending himself — “I’m sorry, but my property is not a public bathroom for the neighborhood dogs,” he said in one — many were removed and Wang was suspended from Nextdoor for not being “respectful to your neighbors,” according to screenshots reviewed by ARLnow.

Other comments that defended him were also removed, though accusations that those residents were somehow in cahoots with Wang, or were Wang using a false identity, remained. (Wang denied that he knows one particularly vehement defender, who posted dozens of comments before disappearing.)

The number of comments on the post were about 300 earlier today, down from 350 yesterday.

The criticism of Wang extended to commentary about his custom-built home.

“That house is an eyesore,” wrote one person.

“House as ugly as sin,” wrote another

“That house is heinous… our eyes are offended,” said a third.

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