Arlington, VA

Morning Notes

VC Firms Eyeing Arlington, D.C. — “Two venture capital firms that have invested mostly in tech companies in the middle of the country are keeping their eye on Greater Washington in the wake of Amazon.com Inc.’s decision to place its second headquarters in Arlington.” [Washington Business Journal]

Owl Rescued from Middle School — “Last week, [the Animal Welfare League of Arlington] got a call from a local middle school that an owl was trapped in their boiler room. Officers Toussaint and White responded and were able to safely remove the owl.” [Facebook, Twitter]

Five-Vehicle Crash on Route 50 — At least two people were reported injured after a five-vehicle crash on Route 50 yesterday afternoon. [Twitter]

Wild Press Conference Near Rosslyn — “Pro-Trump operatives Jacob Wohl and Jack Burkman… hosted a bizarre press conference in the driveway of Burkman’s Arlington, Va. home, while being frequently interrupted by noise from nearby garbage trucks.” [The Daily Beast]

Arlington Org Office Attacked in Kabul — The Kabul, Afghanistan office of Crystal City-based non-governmental organization Counterpart International was attacked yesterday. The Taliban claimed responsibility for the deadly terror attack. [CNN, Counterpart International]

Nearby: Silver Diner Coming to Alexandria — Silver Diner is seeking permission to open a new location at 4610 King Street, in a new development in the City of Alexandria, near Arlington’s Claremont and Fairlington neighborhoods. [Patch]

Flickr pool photo by John Sonderman

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With many animals preparing to rear their young, the season of wildlife encounters is upon us, says the Animal Welfare League of Arlington.

Animal Control Chief Jennifer Toussaint told ARLnow that service calls to her department typically increase this time of year. She shared some tips on making sure the encounters are safe for both humans and animals.

The Arlington County Board banned residents from owning “wild and exotic” animals as pets in 2017, but residents have documented many wild encounters over the years: including feral cat colonies, a coyote on the move, a construction-site turkeybooming bunny populations, and trash truck raccoon as well as school drain raccoon.

Overall, Toussaint said animal control officers receive about 3,500 calls for service annually, and about half those calls involve wild animals. “That tells me that that is a huge need the community has for my department,” she said.

One way she’s trying to meet that need is with public education events, like the one she held on Tuesday. It’s an opportunity to talk about animal-proofing one’s homes, and about dispelling old myths about normal animal behavior.

“I think most of the calls we get are genuine concern. They find a bird on the ground and it looks like a baby. They don’t know that most songbirds fledge from the nest and spend a few days on the ground building up the shoulder strength to fly,” she said, joking, “Cartoons lied to us as children!”

And the rule about not touching baby animals lest their scent changes and their parents abandon them? Also a myth, she says.

As for homeowners who prefer enjoying wildlife from a distance?

“A lot of it is pretty simple,” Toussaint says, “one of the main things is ensuring your home is impenetrable.”

Her tips include capping chimneys, and inspecting attics, eaves, roof siding, and trim regularly for any signs of wildlife.

Ensuring trash barrels stay closed with bungee cords, and clearing debris from yards also helps discourage animals from making homes or meals at people’s homes.

One thing she doesn’t recommend?

“We’re all kind of on top of each other here in Arlington, so I don’t promote people putting chemicals out,” said Toussaint. There are a number of safe, alternative remedies people can use for the problems they most often call about, she said.

For more questions, Toussaint recommends Arlingtonians check out the Humane Society’s species-specific website, or call animal control any time at 703-931-9241. Some animal-specific advice is below, after the jump.

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Morning Notes

Rare, Tropical Dragonfly Spotted in Arlington — “There was quite the discovery at this year’s Bioblitz in Glencarlyn Park. After a photo posted on the crowd-sourcing tracker, iNaturalist, started to spark a lot of interest… the consensus was that what had been photographed was a Great Pondhawk Dragonfly (Erythemis vesiculosa).” [Arlington County]

Frost Fest Rescheduled — Frost Fest at Pentagon Row, originally planned for Saturday, has been rescheduled due to expected rainy weather. It will now take place this Sunday from 4-7 p.m. [Twitter]

County to Open Garages During Snowstorms — “If a big winter storm – or two, or three – hits the region in coming months, Arlington residents will be able to leave their cars safe and sound in county-owned garages for the duration. It’s all part of an effort to keep residential streets as free of vehicles as possible so snow-plow operators can do their job.” [InsideNova]

Crafthouse Going Big — Beer-centric local restaurant chain Crafthouse, which has a location in Ballston, has inked a $250 million deal to franchise nationally. [Reston Now]

Portion of W&OD Trail to Get Separate Lanes — “A major 1.2-mile stretch of the W&OD Trail bike path that traverses the City of Falls Church… will soon be enhanced with the benefit of $3.2 million from the Northern Virginia Transportation Authority and turned into a dual path — one for bikes and the other for pedestrians.” [Falls Church News-Press]

Amazon News Roundup — Virginia economic development officials say they have “accounted for a host of risks that might arise related to Amazon, from a shift in direction for the company to antitrust litigation.” The Arlington Civic Federation “will host a discussion of the proposed Amazon economic-incentive package at its monthly meeting, to be held on Tuesday, Dec. 11 at 7 p.m. at Virginia Hospital Center.” Arlington County’s building and permitting staff “won’t be doing anything out of the ordinary to accommodate Amazon, such as fast-tracking, a common incentive offered to big economic development prizes.” And, in a new report on the oft-reported subject, “Amazon’s Northern Virginia headquarters could exacerbate existing economic disparities.”

Flickr pool photo by David Giambarresi

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Though talk of wild turkey in Rosslyn may lead one to think of bros in hotel bars swigging high-proof bourbon, today it was the real, live thing.

A wild turkey was found waddling around a construction site in Rosslyn, leading to a response from the Animal Welfare League of Arlington.

An animal control officer was able to catch the male turkey, which was said to be “scared and very stressed.” A video posted on Facebook, below, captures the scene as the turkey was placed in a kennel before being brought back to AWLA’s shelter in Shirlington and then being released into the wild.

More from AWLA:

We checked him out, determined he was ok, and together with Arlington County Parks and Recreation’s Natural Resources Chief and his team, we released the turkey into a quiet patch of woods in North Arlington. We are so grateful we were able to help this beautiful bird get back to the wild!

The #RosslynTurkey is back where he belongs – in the wild! Earlier today we got a call about a turkey in the road in Rosslyn. On arrival, Officer Barker found a male wild turkey in a construction area, scared and very stressed. She was able to catch the turkey, and brought him back to the shelter so we could make sure he wasn’t hurt. We checked him out, determined he was ok, and together with Arlington County Parks and Recreation’s Natural Resources Chief and his team, we released the turkey into a quiet patch of woods in North Arlington. We are so grateful we were able to help this beautiful bird get back to the wild!

Posted by Animal Welfare League of Arlington on Monday, March 26, 2018

Rosslyn-based WJLA (ABC 7) captured video of the turkey before its capture:

https://twitter.com/ABC7News/status/978350727985758210

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Arlington County residents are now prohibited from keeping various “wild and exotic” animals as pets, including alligators, squirrels and skunks, but can keep non-venomous snakes and hedgehogs.

Anyone who already owns a banned animal will be grandfathered in but must immediately contact the Animal Welfare League of Arlington to register their pet. Current owners will then be able to legally keep their pets through the registry.

The County Board voted unanimously on Tuesday for the new restrictions, which take effect immediately. Anyone found in violation of the new rules could be fined up to $500 a day.

The following animals are banned, according to Arlington County.

  • Non-human primates (monkeys, chimpanzees, etc.)
  • Raccoons
  • Skunks
  • Wolves or wolf hybrids
  • Coyotes
  • Squirrels
  • Foxes
  • Leopards
  • Panthers
  • Tigers
  • Lions
  • Bears
  • Wild cats including hybrids (like bobcats, lynx and caracals)
  • Ratites (flightless birds)
  • Crocodilians
  • Venomous snakes, venomous reptiles
  • Any other warm-blooded mammal that can normally be found in the wild state
  • Scorpions other than those in the Pandinus groupwhich are permitted
  • Centipedes of the Scolopendra group
  • The following spider groups: Latrodectus (widow spiders); Loxosceles (recluse spiders); Dipluridae (funnel-web spiders); Phoneutria  (banana spiders aka wandering spiders); Ctenizidae (trap-door spiders); Sicarius (sand spiders); and Theraphosidae (tarantulas), except for Theraphosids native to North and South America and Brachypelma smithi (Mexican redknee tarantula), which are not permitted

Non-venomous snakes are not banned, but the Board set standards for care, handling and enclosures for snakes that weigh more than 25 pounds. That is a change from the previous iteration of the ban in March, which had intended to ban ownership of non-venomous snakes weighing more than 10 pounds.

Each snake must have a microchip and have an enclosure that prevents escape but allows freedom of movement within it.

“What began as a seemingly straightforward effort to ban exotic pets in Arlington became much more complex and nuanced as the process evolved,” County Board chair Jay Fisette said in a statement. “Ultimately, through a lot of conversation with the community, we were able to adopt a Code amendment that reaches a practical balance of the input received from all sides and is enforceable.”

Rabbits, rats, mice, ferrets, hamsters, gerbils, chinchillas, hedgehogs, sugar gliders and guinea pigs bred in captivity are permitted as pets. Also allowed as pets are all domestically bred or legally imported birds — other than flightless ratites — plus non-venomous snakes, non-venomous reptiles, amphibians and fish.

County staff said the decision aligns county and state law, and now allows local animal control officers to take actions that previously could only have been taken by state officers.

Photo No. 1: File photo via Facebook/Animal Welfare League of Arlington. Photo No. 2 courtesy Kelly.

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Morning Notes

School Board Approves House Purchase — Despite the objections of some nearby residents, the Arlington School Board last week approved the $525,000 purchase of a home next to Glebe Elementary to provide better emergency vehicle access. “This was not a cohesive, inclusive process – it was done while people were on vacation,” said the head of a local civic association. [InsideNova]

Bat Invades WJLA in Rosslyn — An errant bat caused a commotion at the WJLA (ABC 7) newsroom in Rosslyn Tuesday morning. Eventually the flying mammal was caught by an employee and released outside. [Patch]

Priest Reveals KKK Past — A priest in the Diocese of Arlington revealed in the Arlington Catholic Herald that he was a former KKK member who burned crosses and did other hateful acts, before having a change of heart. Fr. William Aitcheson said he felt compelled to write about his conversion following the events in Charlottesville. [Washington Post]

Flickr pool photo by Kevin Wolf

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(Updated at 3:50 p.m.) The Fairlington neighborhood has a raccoon problem.

A week after a woman was attacked by a raccoon, requiring 87 stitches, another attack happened in Fairlington this morning, according to the Animal Welfare League of Arlington.

The incident happened on the 4800 block of 28th Street S., AWLA said. That’s the same block as yet another raccoon attack last year.

On a neighborhood Facebook page, the victim’s wife said he was attacked after walking out of his house and, unlike the last week’s attack, no pets were involved.

“One bit him on the leg and the other attempted to get in the house,” the woman said. “Rabies shots required and X-ray of fingers.”

Another neighbor said the attack happened just before 6 a.m.

Animal control officers were unable to locate the raccoons involved in the attack, according to Chief Animal Control Officer Jennifer Toussaint. AWLA is stepping up its response to the attacks, she said via email.

We are actively working on a multifaceted approach to reducing the risk to the public as well as preventing future incidents as quickly as possible. We have reached out to the neighboring animal control agency to quicken potential response times to future incidents. We have contacted a biologist with the VA State Department of Game and Inland Fisheries to access raccoon population management and discuss the most recent incidents and attacks. Animal control formally presented to the Fairlington Villages community and property management last year, with the assistance of the Humane Society of the United States-Urban Wildlife Management, to consider alternative trash policies and other precautionary measures to aid in preventing these types of incidents from occurring while reducing the raccoon population.

It is important that the community stay alert, and that they remove any attractants around their properties including–standing water, trash, and bird feeders. Dogs and domestic pets should be kept inside or on leash at all times. Do not feed or approach any wild, stray, or feral animals, even if they appear friendly or injured. Please make sure your dogs and cats are up-to-date on their rabies vaccinations.

Animal control requests that any sightings of raccoons out in the common areas of this community or encroaching on the property in any way be reported immediately at 703-931-9241. Raccoons are known to be carriers of rabies as well as other diseases so any interaction with them (person or pet) should be reported immediately to Arlington County Animal Control. Animal Control is reachable directly 24/7-365 days a year at 703-931-9241.

On the neighborhood Facebook page, a few residents have started calling for the raccoons to be trapped and relocated or shot, though both are illegal. Others say the neighborhood’s condominium associations should reconsider their trash policies.

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Arlingtonians will be able to own non-venomous snakes regardless of size under the latest version of the proposed “wild and exotic” pets ban.

In the new text, there are no prohibitions on owning non-venomous snakes, a change from the previous iteration in March, which said that owners are limited to snakes that weigh 10 pounds or less.

County staff said they made that change, having also previously discussed to ban non-venomous snakes that measured more than 4 feet in length, after further community input and putting together regulations on enclosure, care and handling with residents, animal control officials and veterinarians.

Each snake must have a microchip and have an enclosure that prevents escape but allows freedom of movement within it. There are also stringent rules for any non-venomous snake weighing more than 25 pounds, while constricting snakes are still banned.

Elsewhere in the proposal, hedgehogs and gliders are allowed, while an ambiguity is removed as previous language could have suggested that owning birds or fish as companion animals was not allowed. Ownership of flightless birds like ostriches and emus is still specifically prohibited.

And those wishing to own harmless spiders, scorpions and centipedes are free to do so after more language tweaks, while prohibiting ownership of those that are, as staff put it “harmful and therefore unsuitable in Arlington homes.”

Certain county agencies would now be excluded, if they are using the wild and exotic animals for educational purposes, or for rescue or animal welfare. Arlington Public Schools, for example, would be able to operate an animal program, while zoological animal exhibitions accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums are allowed too.

As proposed, the updated ordinance calls for fines of up to $250 a day for violations.

Staff noted that some members of the community said that circuses should not be allowed in the county, but they said that Arlington does not have the legal authority to ban such performances.

The Arlington County Board is set to vote Saturday on whether to advertise a public hearing on the proposed ban, which would be held in September.

File photo via Facebook/Animal Welfare League of Arlington

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New York City had Pizza Rat. And now it has Trash Bag Rat.

But Arlington now has something much classier: French Bread Squirrel.

This ambitious squirrel was spotted in Fairlington this morning, deftly scaling a fence and jumping onto a tree, all while hanging on to a piece of French bread about twice its size.

After the video stopped rolling the squirrel cleverly hid its prize in the tree branches and retreated to a safe distance to watch for any would-be bread thieves.

The video quickly became a sensation after we posted it on our Facebook page.

“Here in Arlington, our squirrels like a nice French baguette,” said one commenter. “That’s how we roll in A-Town.”

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Morning Notes

Northam, Gillespie Win Va. Primary — Lt. Gov. Ralph Northam and Ed Gillespie, establishment figures in the state Democratic and Republican parties, respectively, beat back party insurgents to win the nomination for Virginia governor on Tuesday. The primary was a test of the “Trump effect,” according to political analysts. [Washington Post, Washington Post, Politico]

Python Found in Apartment Hallway — An Arlington animal control officer recovered a python from an apartment hallway Tuesday morning, prompting an article in by the Washington Post’s Martin Weil. In his signature style, Weil notes that “matters appeared to end satisfactorily.” [Washington Post, Twitter]

Developer, 91, Wants to Move Into New Building — Longtime local developer Marvin Weissberg is enthusiastic about the 24-story, 407-unit residential tower he’s proposing to replace the RCA building in Rosslyn. So enthusiastic is Weissberg, 91, that he says he wants to move in when it’s completed. [Washington Business Journal]

Nearby: Shooting at Congressional Baseball Practice — A gunman opened fire at a Republican congressional baseball practice in Alexandria this morning, wounding House Majority Whip Steve Scalise, a number of congressional aides and two police officers. The gunman was reportedly shot by U.S. Capitol Police. [Fox News, Twitter]

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Morning Notes

D.C. and Arlington: Tech Towns? — The Greater Washington area has ranked third on a major real estate firm’s list of “Tech Cities 1.0.” The area received high marks for its educated workforce and pace of startup growth. Arlington, meanwhile, is continuing to land tech firms from D.C. and Fairfax County, in part thanks to active outreach and an incentive program from Arlington Economic Development. State incentives helped keep Applied Predictive Technologies in Ballston; the firm has a new office and is now expanding and creating 350 jobs.

Exotic Pet Ban Vote Delayed — The Arlington County Board is expected to delay its consideration of a new exotic pet ban until the fall. The proposal has garnered strong reactions from both sides of the issue, including from the D.C.-based Animal Welfare Institute, which is urging the Board to approve the ban. [InsideNova]

Pentagon 9/11 Memorial Gets Architect — Denver-based Fentress Architects has been selected as the designer of the $75 million 9/11 Pentagon Memorial Visitor Education Center. The center will be built near the intersection of Washington Blvd and Columbia Pike, which is set to be realigned as part of an expansion of Arlington National Cemetery.  [Washington Business Journal]

DJO Standout in Running for National Recognition — Bishop O’Connell High School softball standout Kathryn Sandercock is in the running for USA Today’s ALL-USA High School Softball Player of the Year. She is currently second in an online poll. Sandercock was also just named to the 2017 Spring All-Met first team. Other Arlington high school students named to the first team All-Met in their sports include three boys soccer and one girls soccer player. [USA Today]

Flickr pool photo by Kevin Wolf

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