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Capitol Hill fox could be dangerous

Thursday - 1/16/2014, 2:05pm  ET

WASHINGTON - It's fuzzy, red and small -- but Capitol Hill's newest resident might be dangerous.

A fox has been spotted in the Capitol Hill area the past couple of weeks, and it has pranced its way across social media, too, as many have captured the animal in action.

People on Capitol Hill react to their newest neighbor, a fox

Kristi King, WTOP

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However, Oregon Congressman Kurt Schrader, who is a veterinarian, told The Washington Post that people shouldn't get too close to it.

"I'd advise my colleagues and visitors to the Capitol grounds to avoid going near or touching the fox if they spot it, as it could have rabies," Schrader told the Post.

Jokingly, Schrader added that perhaps the fox may be to blame for some of the weirder actions among the members of Congress.

"On second thought, it's possible that it may have bitten some of my colleagues. That explains a lot," he said to the Post.

While it is not clear if the fox does, in fact, have rabies, all warm-blooded animals can be affected by the virus, according the D.C. Department of Health.

The DOH says the symptoms of a rabid animal include:

  • Be unnaturally withdrawn
  • Be unusually friendly or calm
  • Be very docile
  • Snap at anything in its path
  • Appear in the daytime (if it's nocturnal)
  • Search for an isolated place to die

The fox also has been seen by the Architect of the Capitol's staff.

"AOC staff has spotted the fox around the Capitol over the past year, but its visibility has increased this winter. The Capitolšs grounds are a very supportive environment for wildlife. Therešs enough underbrush and trees on the grounds to offer cover and protection," says Architect of the Capitol spokewoman Laura R. Condeluci.

"Foxes are natural predators, and it seems that this one is helping with the abundance of squirrels. Our staff has also noticed more red tail hawks, so it seems our piece of the urban landscape is very supporting of wildlife," Condeluci says.

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