Fox news: Critter in custody amid ‘aggressive’ incidents around Capitol

Capitol Police say an arrest has been made in connection with some “aggressive” fox incidents around the Capitol. (Courtesy Capitol Police)

An aggressive fox encounter might sound like something that only happens on cable news, but U.S. Capitol Police are warning visitors to be aware of actual foxes on the grounds of the Capitol.

A tweet Tuesday afternoon from the Capitol Police said there have been several reports of foxes approaching people and getting aggressive.

“For your safety, please do not approach any foxes,” the tweet said.

Some of these encounters have involved bites, and it has led to speculation that there is a fox den around First and C streets Northeast, near the Dirksen Senate Office Building. Another den is believed to be near the Russell Senate Office Building.

The U.S. Capitol Police said there have been “roughly six bites/nips between Monday and Tuesday.’

Animal control officers have been trying to trap and relocate them, Capitol police said, and just hours later they made an arrest.

Rep. Ami Bera, D-Calif., learned about the fox firsthand Monday evening while walking to the Capitol for votes. Now he’s undergoing a series of four rabies shots out of an abundance of caution.

Bera said he felt something lunge at him from behind as he walked near one of the Senate office buildings. He turned and used his umbrella to fend off what he thought would be a small dog, but he soon realized he was tangling with a fox.

Bera said the encounter lasted about 15 seconds. A bystander yelled to alert others and the fox fled as U.S. Capitol Police officers ran up on the scene. A medical doctor, Bera looked for puncture wounds. He didn’t see evidence of any, but there was some abrasion, so he consulted the Capitol physician, who told him not to take any chances and to get treated.

He said he went to Walter Reed National Military Medical Center after votes for the first of a series of four shots.

“I would say it’s the most unusual day on the Hill in 10 years,” Bera said of his experience.

Of course, there were many joking references to Fox News at the Capitol on Tuesday. But the House Sergeant at Arms was serious when telling lawmakers and their staffs Tuesday afternoon that there had been multiple recent fox encounters and that the animals should not be approached.

U.S. Capitol Police said it’s difficult to determine how many people have been have been bit because encounters have been reported to different places, but they believe there have been about six bites or nips between Monday and Tuesday.

According to the Humane Society of the United States, foxes are usually afraid of people unless they’ve been fed by people — or unless they are rabid.

The Humane Society recommends that the best way to scare off a fox is by making loud noises,  dousing them with water or throwing a small object such as a tennis ball.

Apparently, the fox arrested Tuesday was not the fox behind a new Twitter account that has taken issue with these critters’ portrayals by the media.

Bera harbored no ill will toward the culprit.

“Hopefully, the animal can be relocated,” he said.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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