The County Board voted unanimously Saturday to revisit the proposed ban, with some modifications, at its June 17 meeting after more public discussion.
A previous version of the proposal had included hedgehogs among the banned species. Lyn Hainge, assistant division chief of the county’s public health division, said she received feedback from several hundred people, many of them pro-hedgehog, after the ban plan was publicized.
Snake owners, however, might still run afoul of the new rules.
Hainge said the original plan to ban non-venomous snakes that measured more than 4 feet in length has been changed. Now, those that weigh more than 10 pounds would be banned.
But Jennifer Toussaint, the county’s chief animal control officer, said that switch did not take into account different snake species.
“It can be confusing for individuals as to what they can and cannot legally acquire,” she said. “We have snakes that would fall into that list that pose minimal risk to the public.”
Bonnie Keller, operator of Virginia Reptile Rescue, Inc., said she has previously brought snakes that are 14 feet long and weigh 175 pounds to birthday parties for 4- and 5-year-olds. She offered to help educate the public about any risks.
Board member John Vihstadt asked for statistics on injuries caused to first-responders by such pets. Hainge said they are still being compiled and will be available at the next public hearing.
Vihstadt also said he wanted to see a “stronger foundation” for the new rules, and asked staff if they had talked with neighboring jurisdictions who have done similar work, and those who have not.
“What is the real foundation for this?” Vihstadt asked. “What is the problem we’re trying to solve?”
Board member Libby Garvey asked if there can be greater flexibility in registering existing animals, like if people move to work for the State Department and bring a favorite pet with them.
“We can’t imagine all the different circumstances there are, and I would like to have some wiggle room if there’s a way of doing that,” Garvey said.
The code change will be revisited in June, after further public comment.
“This issue has stirred a great deal of public interest and valuable comments,” said County Board Chair Jay Fisette, in a statement. “Staff has incorporated enough changes into the proposed ordinance that it needs to be re-advertised and we need to give people an additional chance to provide feedback.”
Photo courtesy Kelly
County Board Mulls Exotic Pet Ban — As expected, the Arlington County Board on Saturday voted to advertise a ban on “wild and exotic” pets in the county. Animals covered by the proposed ban “range from monkeys, wolves, raccoons and lynx to alligators, tarantulas, hedgehogs and even sugar gliders.” A hearing on the matter will be held March 18, ahead of final approval by the Board. [Arlington County]
Arlington Cultural Diversity Ranking — Arlington ranks No. 33 among “mid-sized cities” in a new list of cities with the most cultural diversity, behind places like Columbia, Maryland; Glendale, Arizona; and Cambridge, Massachusetts. [WalletHub]
Western Rosslyn Plan Moving Forward — The Arlington County Board has taken a series of actions to push its previously approved Western Rosslyn Area Plan forward. The plan includes a new home for H-B Woodlawn at the Wilson School, a new fire station, a reconfigured park and the redevelopment of several garden apartment buildings into a larger affordable housing complex. The various projects are expected to be completed by 2021. [Arlington County]
Arlington-Based Org Gets Big Grant — The Crystal City-based U.S. Committee for Refugees and Immigrants is getting a $4.4 million grant from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. The grant, announced by U.S. senators Tim Kaine (D-Va.) and Mark Warner (D-Va.), is earmarked for “organizations working to provide unaccompanied minors who fled violence in Central America with services including temporary shelters and foster care programs.” [Sen. Tim Kaine]
County Extends HQ Lease — Arlington County has extended its lease at 2100 Clarendon Blvd for another 15 years, a move the county says will save $1.6 million annually in rent. “This is a great deal for Arlington taxpayers,” Arlington County Board Chair Jay Fisette said in a press release. “The County will stay in this prime Courthouse location, home to County Government since 1989, at a savings of millions of dollars over the term of the extension.” [Arlington County]
Homeownership Still a Dream for Many Millennials — The Millennial generation is a major force in Arlington’s population and economy, but homeownership remains out of reach for many, including the older portion of the generation that’s getting married and having kids. Contributing to the problem: there is a significant shortage of homes for sale, particularly affordable starter homes, and the new houses that are being built are often higher-end luxury properties. [Washington Post, CNBC]
Photo courtesy Donna Gouse
The Board is scheduled to consider a request to advertise hearings this weekend on an ordinance that would change county code “to prohibit or, under specific circumstances, register the presence of wild and exotic animals and snakes over four feet in length Arlington County.”
Though the county already has rules in place regarding owning pigs, fowl and certain kinds of venomous reptiles, it lacks regulations covering “wild or exotic” creatures. The county defines those animals as the following:
“Wild or exotic animal” means any live monkey (non-human primate), raccoon, skunk, wolf and wolf hybrids, coyote, squirrel, fox, leopard, panther, tiger, lion, bear, small wild cats including hybrids (i.e., bobcats, lynx and cracal), hedgehog, sugar glider, or any other warm-blooded animal, poisonous snake or reptile or tarantula that can normally be found in the wild state, or any other member of a crocodilian, including but not limited to alligators, crocodiles, caimans and gavials.
“These and other wild and exotic animals, along with snakes over four feet in length, can be difficult to handle and can exhibit unpredictable, aggressive behavior toward humans and other species,” a board report reads.
The report continues: “Prohibiting them in Arlington would 1) protect both residents and animals from harm and reduce the likelihood of mistreatment of such animals kept out of their native habitat; 2) support public safety professionals by removing potential threats when responding to a residence; and 3) align Arlington with neighboring jurisdictions [such as the District, Fairfax and Falls Church].”
Arlington residents who violate the proposed ban could face fines. Locals who currently own such animals would either have to register them with the county’s animal control agency or turn them over to accredited zoos or nonprofits.
The Animal Welfare League of Arlington and the Humane Society of America support the changes, Arlington County said in a press release. People who want to weigh in on the proposal can email the county or attend a public hearing tentatively set for March 18.
Photo via Flickr/ToddMoney
(Updated at 1:36 p.m.) A raccoon apparently took a wild ride through Arlington today.
Politico reporter Helena B. Evich first spotted an adventurous animal hitching a ride on the back of an American Disposal Services trash truck in Rosslyn a little after 11 a.m. this morning.
Naturally, she tweeted about it:
This raccoon is having a rough morning-just wanted some trash & ended up in Rosslyn!
>And yes I alerted the driver pic.twitter.com/L3y3JFBpFx
— Helena B. Evich (@hbottemiller) February 17, 2017
Evich also called American Disposal Services to report the creature she dubbed the “trash raccoon.” Eventually, that report made its way to Anna Wilkinson, the company’s communications director.
“As soon as we found out that the raccoon was on the truck, the driver pulled over because we didn’t want the raccoon to get injured,” Wilkinson said.
By the time the driver pulled over, the truck had traveled all the way from Rosslyn to Falls Church. Wilkinson said she then called the Falls Church Police Department’s animal control team, who came to retrieve the skittish stowaway and make sure it was out of harm’s way.
“He looked like he was hanging on pretty tightly,” Wilkinson said. “The picture is adorable.”
Wilkinson later confirmed the raccoon was removed safely and without harm.
This isn’t the first time a local raccoon has gotten into a strange situation. In fact, one found itself stuck in a drain at Wakefield High School earlier this week.
‘Day Without Immigrants’ Hits DoD Food Court — Yesterday’s “Day Without Immigrants” strike resulted in multiple restaurants being closed in the Pentagon food court and long lines at the restaurants that remained open. [Fox News]
Flickr pool photo by Erinn Shirley
A raccoon got stuck in a drain at Wakefield High School yesterday, but animal control officers rode to the rescue.
The Animal Welfare League of Arlington posted a photo of the critter on Twitter, taken just before it was freed from the small concrete trench.
— AWLA Arlington, VA (@AWLAArlington) February 13, 2017
A Donaldson Run resident photographed what appears to be a bobcat in a neighbor’s backyard over the weekend.
Evelyn Powers says her husband spotted the big cat Saturday morning.
“She was awesome… super chill-relaxing in the sun,” said Powers. “We enjoyed [the] visit… from afar of course.”
Photos and video provided by Powers show the animal casually exploring the neighbor’s backyard.
Bobcats are predators that have been known to inhabit wooded and “urban edge” environments. They usually hunt rabbits, birds, mice, squirrels and other small game, but are generally not considered a threat to humans.
Another bobcat made news last week; “Ollie” the bobcat escaped from an enclosure at the National Zoo in D.C. but was later found and captured on zoo property.
Update at 12:25 p.m. — Some additional insight from Susan Sherman of the Animal Welfare League of Arlington:
I am not aware of a previous [bobcat sighting] in Arlington. Bobcats are a rare part of the native wildlife that can be found in Arlington. They are larger than traditional cats ranging from 2-3.5 ft long and around 1.5 ft at the shoulder. They are known for their shy nature and posing no threat to humans, property, or companion animals. They are a rare sight because of their reclusive nature — but it is mating season (from Dec. to around Feb.) and that could be why they caught this glimpse. They will traditionally be spotted in only the wooded urban areas throughout the county. We ask that the public call the Animal Control Department with any questions or concerns.
Photos and video courtesy @designpowers
Bald Eagle Spotted on Fourth of July — A bald eagle was spotted in the area of N. Park Drive, in the Arlington Forest neighborhood, yesterday on the Fourth of July (see above). The eagle “finally flew away after half an hour of harassment from a bunch of crows,” noted a neighborhood listserv email, but not before delighting adults and children in the neighborhood who gathered to see the patriotic sight.
Vietnam Vet Survives Stroke Thanks to Medics — Quick-acting Arlington County paramedics, a Good Samaritan who helped direct traffic at an intersection to let the ambulance through and skilled emergency room doctors helped to save the life of a Vietnam veteran who suffered a stroke while visiting his son in Arlington. [Fox 5]
School Board Chair Focused on Achievement — The Arlington School Board’s new chairman, Nancy Van Doren, says her focus is on individual student achievement, even in the midst of ongoing school growth and capacity challenges. “Our litmus test must be: Does each and every child receive the support he or she needs?” Van Doren said. [InsideNova]
Faked Fireworks Included Arlington Angle — The internet is abuzz about PBS’ use of “rerun” fireworks footage intermixed with live footage during its Capitol Fourth broadcast last night. One of the camera angles used showed an impossibly clear view of the fireworks and of the Capitol building from Arlington. In actuality, rain and low clouds made for a dreary, hazy view of the fireworks display. [WTOP]
Photo courtesy of Paul Fiorino
The organization is asking anyone who has had contact — or whose pet has had contact — with the raccoon to call them.
The Animal Welfare League of Arlington seeks information about any people or pets who may have had physical exposure to a raccoon that has tested positive for rabies. An animal control officer picked up a dead raccoon in the 1800 block of N. Underwood Street near Benjamin Banneker Park on March 21. When it was sent for testing, the raccoon was positive for rabies. We ask that anyone who may have had contact or whose pets may have had contact with any raccoon in that vicinity, please call the League at 703-931-9241.
Revolutionary War-Themed Bar Coming to Clarendon — The Spirits of 76, a new Revolutionary War-themed bar from the general manager of Georgetown’s former Rhino Bar, is coming to Clarendon. The bar will be built in the former Taste of Morocco space at 3211 Washington Blvd, between O’Sullivan’s and the new “European inspired” Park Lane Tavern. Spirits of 76 hopes, optimistically, to open in April. [Washington Business Journal]
Geese from Oil Spill Released — About 20 Canada geese that were affected by the Roaches Run Waterfowl Sanctuary oil spill last month have been released back to the Potomac. Some 60 waterfowl were covered in oil as a result of the spill and 29 died, according to the Coast Guard. Dominion recently admitted that the oil came from its Crystal City power substation. [Washington Post]
Emergency Water Main Repairs in Clarendon — The westbound lanes of 10th Street N. in Clarendon are closed between N. Hudson and N. Irving streets for emergency water main repairs, according to Arlington Alerts.
Superintendent Hoping for No More Snow Days — Arlington Public Schools Superintendent Patrick Murphy is crossing his fingers for an early spring. “Believe me: I want to be back in school on a regular basis more than any of you,” Murphy told School Board members last week. Meanwhile, one local civic activist wants teachers to return to school before students following major snowstorms. [InsideNova, InsideNova]
Flickr pool photo by Erinn Shirley
Community Pushes Back on Fire Station Plan — Arlington County Board members are hearing an earful from residents who live around Fire Station 8 on Lee Highway. The county is considering relocating the station to improve fire response times in far northern neighborhoods. However, residents say the fire station is historic because it was the first in Virginia to be staffed mostly by professional black firefighters, in the 1950s, and should not be moved. [InsideNova, WTOP]
Kojo and Kaine in Crystal City — WAMU’s Kojo Nnamdi will host a “Kojo in the Community” discussion with Sen. Tim Kaine (D-Va.) tonight. “The discussion will focus on the ways in which the military and defense industry shape our region, ranging from jobs and the economy to infrastructure and traffic,” organizers say. The talk will take place at Synetic Theater in Crystal City. [ARLnow Events]
New Restaurant at DCA — Former “Top Chef” finalist Carla Hall has opened a new 110-seat restaurant in Reagan National Airport’s Terminal A. The menu features contemporary American cuisine with a Southern flair. [Eater, Washington Business Journal]
Now Showing: Shrek, the Musical — Arlington’s Encore Stage and Studio is currently performing Shrek, the Musical at Thomas Jefferson Community Theater. The family-friendly show runs through Sunday. [DC Metro Theater Arts]
Bunnies Galore Near Clarendon — There sure are a lot of bunnies around Clarendon these days, at least according to some concerned bunny spotters who have contacted us about it. Now, there’s some photographic proof. [Twitter]
It’s well known that there are foxes in Arlington County, but it’s not every day that one is caught on video.
ARLnow reader Ryan Fubini was in his car when he took this video of a fox scampering down a residential street in Cherrydale.
“I took it in front of my house as I was pulling out of the driveway [on] N. Nelson Street,” Fubini said. “We have seen foxes numerous times at our house. But this fox running down the sidewalk in the daytime was pretty surprising. What was more surprising is after I came back and parked my truck, he ran 6 feet right next to me down the sidewalk carrying another piece of wood.”
We asked the Animal Welfare League of Arlington whether residents should be worried about foxes in their community. Their answer: probably not.
From AWLA animal control officer Jen Toussaint:
That is indeed an adult red fox in the video… In urban environments wildlife is more accustomed to seeing people, cars and hearing sounds consistently. It is not abnormal to see urban wildlife out during the day!
This particular animal appears in very good health and condition. We do not trap nuisance wildlife here in Arlington but we do remove animals if they are sick or injured.
[I am] not using the word nuisance to mean that they are of harm to people or their companion animals. They are being a “nuisance” by showing up in peoples yards unwantedly or stealing food from trash cans and gardens. If managed properly foxes are not a risk to people or their pets.
Working to keep your yard clean and food sources, such as trash, properly contained will deter these animals (and others such as raccoon, etc.) from being in or near your home. Properly enclosing below decks and sheds will remove the possibility of a fox den nearby.
Indoor/outdoor cats should come in for the evening and feeding outside should be minimal. Foxes provide a wonderful service to the people of Arlington county including keeping our rodent and snake population down. As far as wildlife goes foxes do very minimal property damage if around.
If anyone ever has any questions or concerns about wildlife they should feel free to call Animal Control at 703-931-9241. We can give excellent deterrent methods to make your home and property less appealing as well as provide educational facts regarding their habits, behavior, and normalcies.
It may be frigid outside, but those willing to brave the cold may be able to spot one of Arlington’s more elusive mammalian inhabitants — local wildlife watchers have some of their best chances to spot a red or gray fox in the winter time.
Foxes were a recent topic of discussion in an Arlington neighborhood email list.
“Although foxes are primarily nocturnal, it’s not unusual to see one out hunting during the day in winter,” wrote Long Branch Nature Center Natural Resources Specialist Cliff Fairweather. “Nonetheless, foxes are elusive and seeing one is an uncommon treat.”
Red foxes are all over Arlington but hard to spot, according to another county naturalist, Alonso Abugattas. They are not native to the county, but they have since “naturalized.”
“The bottom line though is that we do not know exactly how many red foxes we have in Arlington, though they are very plentiful and inhabit almost every one of our neighborhoods,” he told ARLnow.com.
Gray foxes are native to Arlington, but much less prevalent and stick mainly to the areas around the Potomac, Abugattas said.
So how does one know if a fox is in their midst if there’s no red or gray bushy tail in sight? Fairweather says foxes tend to leave their “scat,” or feces, in “obvious” places to mark their territory, and their urine can smell like a skunk. Their scat “is usually dark and often twisted to a point at the ends and the contents reflect seasonal variation in fox diets. In winter, it is usually composed of hair from small mammals,” according to Fairweather.
Although foxes are peaceful animals and tend to be afraid of humans, they are omnivores and talented scavengers, according to Abugattas.
“They get to know the trash days and routes and stake out restaurants for the leftovers, unsecured trash, and rodents they attract,” he said.
If you do spot a fox and it approaches you or “acts unusually tame” — as opposed to running away — it might be a sign of rabies and should be avoided, Fairweather cautioned.
Flickr pool photo by Kevin Wolf
The flyer at the left was recently posted at the Washington & Lee Apartments (2200 2nd Street N.), threatening “legal action and fines” against those who feed the squirrels. Sandra Rose, who has been the apartment property manager for 18 years, stresses she’s not trying to be nasty, but the animals have been causing thousands of dollars worth of damage to the property.
“People think they’re cute and cuddly, and they are. But they don’t always understand they’re a rodent,” Rose said. “As a rodent they do rodent type damage.”
The squirrels recently have chewed holes in roofs on the buildings and residents have complained about the animals getting into their attics. Rose said she has had to hire exterminators to try to capture the animals once they’re loose in the building.
The roof damage isn’t the only problem with the squirrels the property manager has encountered. Rose said in the past, she’s sent out similar flyers when the squirrels managed to get into residents’ car engines and strip spark plug wire material, which they then used to pack their nests.
Rose said one of the exterminators actually spotted residents feeding the animals, which is why she sent out the flyer. She recommends other property owners inform their residents of how destructive the squirrels can be.
“I think they should let tenants know not to feed them because that’s domesticating them,” said Rose. “When they become domesticated they become dependent on you and won’t go away.”
Arlington County Natural Resources Manager Alonso Abugattas shared Rose’s concerns. He said feeding any wild mammals, squirrels or others, is a bad idea.
“In a nutshell, with mammals the overall idea is it’s not a good idea to feed them,” Abugattas said. “When you start feeding more unusual wildlife — squirrels, deer, foxes, raccoons — that’s a bad idea. It changes their behavior, and not only will they hang out in places where they shouldn’t, but they lose some of their fear and healthy respect for humans. Wild foods are always healthier for the animals anyway.”
While contracting rabies is a rare occurrence, it could be a possibility if the animals become so domesticated that they approach people, and perhaps bite them. Abugattas said it’s one of the many health concerns stemming from feeding wild animals. Another concern is the the spread of diseases to pets.
A smaller acorn crop in Virginia and West Virginia this fall is prompting squirrels to change their behavior this winter, Abugattas added. As a result, squirrels and other animals have been seeking out non-traditional food sources to make up for the lack of acorns.
The pond has already begun draining after Arlington’s Dept. of Environmental Services removed the stop logs on the pond’s weir, after which the county will begin the construction bidding and plant treatments.
Construction to the “new and improved pond design that will provide stormwater treatment benefits, as well as improved habitat for wildlife,” is expected to begin in spring 2014, according to Arlington Stormwater Outreach Specialist Jen McDonnell.
The pond will be drained to encourage the wildlife to find new homes during the construction. When construction is complete, stop logs will be placed back in a new weir, and the pond will refill naturally from Lubber Run, McDonnell said. The pond will still receive water flow from Lubber Run until the construction begins.
“Draining the pond will not have any long-term impact on the animal habitat,” McDonnell wrote in an email. “The construction and subsequent addition of native plants will result in a ‘new’ pond that will provide a better variety of wildlife habitats and improved stormwater treatment.”