Capitol Police Nab Fox Who Raised Ruckus on Capitol Hill
WASHINGTON — Capitol Hill is no stranger to pop culture phenomena that insist upon themselves – after all, Bono was just here just a few days ago — but few are those who achieve the kind of instant celebrity a sole red fox experienced Tuesday afternoon.
The fox, whose identity remains unknown, was captured by U.S. Capitol Police on Tuesday after it allegedly bit a Democratic congressman, a Politico reporter and as many as four others.
Hours after the apprehension, someone tweeting under the name “The Capitol Fox” issued what it described as an official statement.
“I am a work in progress,” it said.
For all the buzz it created — it even generated a question for Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell at a leadership press conference yesterday — the very real drama began when Rep. Ami Bera, D-Calif., felt something nip at his leg as he walked toward the Cannon House Office building Monday afternoon.
“I felt something lunge, totally unprovoked, at the back of my leg,” Bera told reporters.
“It felt like a small dog and I quickly jumped away from it,” he said.
Fortunately for Bera, a forecast of rain in the D.C. area prompted him to carry an umbrella with him.
“I’m glad I had it,” the representative said. “Because after that, it was just holding it off.”
The fox’s teeth punctured a pant leg of Bera’s suit, but did not appear to break the skin.
Nevertheless, out of an abundance of caution, Bera went to Walter Reed Hospital on Monday night and received seven shots — five immunoglobulin shots in the ankle, one in the side, one in both buttocks, a rabies shot in the right arm and a tetanus shot in the shoulder.
And he now has to continue a five-shot course of the rabies vaccine, just as a precaution.
National television viewers got their first look at the Fox that same night, via a video provided
to Fox News by Sen. Joni Ernst, R-Iowa.
On Tuesday morning, Politico’s Ximena Bustillo was bitten from behind while she was walking on Capitol Hill.
“It bit me,” she alerted her colleagues. “All I wanted was to write Morning Ag.”
“I didn’t even see it,” she tweeted later. “I’m from Idaho. I know not to try and pet it!!!”
She went on to report that the first people on the scene were local reporters.
“Respect,” she said before adding, “Washington must be slow today with the amount of comment requests I’m getting. At least y’all are distracting me.”
Within minutes, the U.S. Capitol Police issued a warning that said, “We have received several reports of aggressive fox encounters on or near the grounds of the U.S. Capitol. For your safety, please do not approach any foxes. Animal Control Officers are working to trap and relocate any foxes they find.”
With that, reports of encounters with a fox or one of several foxes began to multiply, with sightings occurring everywhere from the Botanic Garden at the foot of the House side of the Capitol to First and C Street NE on the other side of the historic edifice.
“There are possibly several fox dens on Capitol grounds. Animal Control is currently on the grounds seeking to trap and relocate any foxes they find,” the Capitol Police warned.
“Foxes are wild animals that are very protective of their dens and territory. Please do not approach any fox you see,” the agency said.
Finally, within just hours of Bustillo’s attack, the Capitol Police had a possible assailant in custody.
“#BREAKING: Captured,” was all the department’s tweet said. It was accompanied by four pictures of the captured fox.
Red foxes are actually quite common in Virginia, Maryland and the District of Columbia, and according to the National Parks Service, there’s often a fox den or two on the National Mall.
As of Wednesday morning, Capitol Police and Animal Control Officers were continuing to try to identify dens on Capitol Hill to relocate them.
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