(Updated at 8:30 p.m.) Several people have reported the sighting of a bear near Home Depot in Reston.
In a tweet, Hunter Mill District Supervisor Walter Alcorn warned residents of a bear sighting near the hardware store at 1651 Reston Parkway. A representative for Alcorn’s office said the Reston Police District received several reports.
Sgt. Earit Powell with Animal Protextion Police said it is likely the same bear that was seen in McLean over the last week and a half is in the Reston area.
The bear has not showed any threatening behavior but has been getting into trash and bird feeders, Powell said.
“We are also directing people to contact the Virginia Wildlife Conflict Helpline at 855-571-9003 to report sightings and any conflicts with bears. This helpline is operated by the DWR and USDA Wildlife Services,” he added.
Another individual told FFXnow they saw a bear on Temporary Road.
Cameron Perez told FFXnow that she called 911 when she spotted the bear earlier this morning.
“I was coming back from work around 9:20am in the crossing light of Temporary Road and North Shore is the new traffic light that was installed recently,” Carmen said. “It was a black juvenile bear.”
Resident Matt Sweeney says he saw the bear in the Browns Chapel Park area this morning, posting videos on NextDoor that showed the animal crossing a road and lumbering through woods.
“It happened at around 8:05am at Browns Chapel,” he told FFXnow. “I first saw it on the paved trail running parallel to Baron Cameron [Road].”
My office has heard that a bear 🐻 has been seen in Reston near Home Depot. The bear hasn't shown behaviors that indicate a public safety threat. Call Virginia Wildlife Helpline 855-571-9003 to report sightings. https://t.co/XZwpKwLcis#Reston #HunterMill
— Supervisor Walter Alcorn (@WalterAlcornFFX) June 28, 2023
A dog was chained up and shot this morning in the residential neighborhood behind the Woodlawn Shopping Center in Mount Vernon, police say.
Officers responded to the area of Bedford Terrace and Beekman Place at 3:35 a.m. after getting a call that there was a dog chained to a fence, according to the Fairfax County Police Department. Upon arriving, they discovered the animal had a gunshot wound.
“The chain was immediately removed, and the dog was taken to a nearby veterinarian’s office. The dog remains with the veterinarian receiving further care,” the FCPD said in a news release published this afternoon.
Police later determined that a community member had called earlier in the evening “after hearing a dog barking and a single gunshot,” the department said, adding that officers had searched the area but “did not find anything suspicious.”
The FCPD is now on the lookout for the owner of the dog, which is believed to be an adult, male Staffordshire terrier.
Police are asking residents in the neighborhood to review any surveillance footage they might have from last night. The department’s Animal Protection Police can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The FCPD also accepts anonymous tips through Crime Solvers by phone (1-866-411-TIPS) and online.
A stray llama who was caught running on Fairfax County Parkway in the Fairfax Station area over the weekend has been reunited with her owner, the county’s animal shelter says.
A combination of overhead and body camera footage shared by the Fairfax County Police Department shows officers chasing the animal in a wooded area before managing to corral her.
“A passerby saw a llama out for a jog on the Fairfax County Pkwy near Popes Head Road,” the department said. “After eluding our officers, the llama was found in a backyard and safely taken secured by APP.”
— Fairfax County Police (@FairfaxCountyPD) December 20, 2022
Police transported the animal to the Fairfax County Animal Shelter (4500 West Ox Road), where she got a temporary home in the facility’s barn.
“The llama was assessed by shelter staff and the shelter veterinarian and found to be in stable condition,” shelter director Reasa Currier told FFXnow. “The shelter staff provided her bedding, food, and water. Shelter staff immediately began searching for her family.”
“We have a stray llama” is the quote of 2022, and maybe a great way to summarize the overall year. https://t.co/QmTH7BRJa9
— Martin Austermuhle (@maustermuhle) December 20, 2022
It’s been a year for random animals roaming around the area – zebras in Prince George’s County, a black bear in Tysons Corner and now…?! https://t.co/8R77sBEddj
— Nicole Hawkins (@NicoleHawk) December 20, 2022
Namaste, llama stray 🦙 https://t.co/lYWj1hks24
— Council of DC (@councilofdc) December 20, 2022
In a welcome change of pace from previous unusual animal escapes in the D.C. region, Kolby’s adventure appears to have a happy ending: the shelter’s staff located her owner yesterday (Tuesday).
“He was eager to be reunited with his llama,” Currier said. “…Kolby received a lot of attention from the shelter staff and seemed to enjoy all of it.”
While not as common as horses or sheep, llamas are permitted as livestock in Fairfax County. The zoning ordinance allows up to five llamas per acre of land, provided the property is at least two acres in size — a rule that also applies to their cousins, alpacas.
Should any other llamas pop up and make a scene, Currier advises community members to contact Animal Protection Police, which can be reached at 703-691-2131 or FCPDAnimalProtection@FairfaxCounty.gov.
Pickles, a rescue cat, was trapped in a stormwater drain at Lake Anne in Reston for almost a week.
Her owners unsuccessfully tried to get him out after he became stuck on Dec. 4, his mews audible through a manhole.
After Fairfax County’s animal control staff said they couldn’t humanely trap the cat and the Fire and Rescue Department’s non-emergency line also said they could not do much, the owners turned to the county’s stormwater maintenance team for help.
After working from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Friday (Dec. 9), the team was able to get Pickles out, according to Brittany Catton Kirk, the owner.
“After a laborious first attempt/ he escaped and ran down a second drain. I seriously was going to give up at that point but your team did not. They moved the truck and started again. And this time got him!” Kirk said.
She told FFXnow that the cat was rescued on a freeway in Maryland a year ago.
Kirk said they promise to keep the feral rescue cat indoors from now on and lauded the team for their effort.
“It would have been an entirely different Christmas and trauma to know our cat was dying in a closed dark space, and now he is safe at home,” Kirk wrote.
The animal has been active in the county for about two months now, traveling in the Vienna, Oakton, McLean, Reston and Fairfax areas, according to Katherine Edwards, the Fairfax County Police Department’s wildlife management specialist.
“While searching for food, this young bear has traveled into residential areas around homes, including yards, porches, and decks,” Edwards told FFXnow. “Most of the reports indicate that the bear is taking advantage of human-sourced food items, primarily bird feeders, unsecured trash, and beehives.”
The FCPD estimates that three to four bears have been active in the county since this spring, though no formal count has been conducted. Edwards says that number is in line with what’s reported to her and the county’s Animal Protection Police each year.
While sightings “are infrequent” in the more urbanized parts of Tysons, it’s “not uncommon” for one-year-old bears known as yearlings to move through the Potomac River corridor when setting out on their own for the first time, Edwards said.
Bears who find refuge in the parks and green spaces around nearby McLean and Vienna might drift into Tysons as they search for food.
This particular bear was filmed walking on the Boyd Pointe Way Sunday night in a video shared by FOX5 reporter Angie Goff. A Facebook commenter on FFXnow’s story about the sighting said a couple of his neighbors have caught the animal on camera following the Vesper Trail from Tysons Forest.
In September, the bear was seen rummaging through a trash can near McLean Hamlet Park, walking on Park Street in Vienna, and crossing Soapstone Drive toward Frederick Crabtree Park in Reston, as previously reported.
Soapstone Drive resident Sarah Boczar told FFXnow that her mom saw the bear in their neighborhood “a couple of weeks ago” while walking the family dog. Photos of the animal have been circulating in the community.
Edwards says bears will typically travel quickly through an area without any conflicts if they don’t find food, but this bear has lingered due to the availability of easily accessible food sources.
“We encourage neighbors to take preventative actions to remove food attractants and reduce the chance of conflict with a bear in their community,” she said. “We are asking neighbors to temporarily remove any outdoor food sources to help keep this young bear wild and encourage it to safely move on.”
Police advise residents to take the following steps to avoid attracting bears:
- Secure Garbage: Keep in a locked shed or inside until the morning of collection or use a bear resistant container.
- Take down birdfeeders.
- Feed pets indoors or only what they will eat in a single feeding if you must feed them outside. Remove all uneaten food and pet bowls. Do not leave food out overnight. Store pet food where bears can’t see or smell it.
- Clean up porches, patios, and decks. Remove any potential food sources and remember a screened in porch is not a “secure” storage area from a bear’s point of view.
- Clean grills after each use. Do not dump drippings in your yard. Run the grill an extra 5 minutes to burn off grease, fat, and food particles.
- Never leave food, trash, or pet/livestock feed inside your vehicle.
- Never purposely leave out food or try to feed a bear.
(Updated at 6 p.m.) Tysons got an unexpected visitor this weekend in the form of an apparently solo black bear.
The animal was spotted ambling along the Boyd Pointe Way sidewalk outside the Adaire Apartments in a video shared on Twitter last night by FOX5 reporter Angie Goff. She said it was seen on Sunday (Oct. 30) at 1521 Boyd Pointe Way.
— angie goff (@OhMyGOFF) October 31, 2022
While startling, bear sightings have increased in Fairfax County in recent years, the police department told FFXnow in June after a bear was photographed crossing the GW Parkway in Belle Haven.
Bears were also reported near McLean Hamlet Park, in Vienna and in Arlington this summer. Reston resident Victor Toth told FFXnow on Sept. 27 that he spotted a bear crossing Soapstone Drive toward Frederick Crabtree Park around 8:45 a.m. that day.
“No picture yet, unfortunately, and while it was only medium sized it was beautiful nonetheless,” Toth said in an email.
It’s unclear if these have all been different bears or the same one or two popping up in different locations.
The Fairfax County Police Department anticipates that bears will continue to appear more frequently into the future, as the animal’s population grows and the county becomes more developed, making it harder for bears and humans to avoid contact.
“Bears have adapted to living near people and we must also learn to adapt to bear activity and take responsible action to prevent conflicts from occurring in our communities by removing food sources that attract bears,” police said in June.
Still, a bear in Tysons at this time of year may be particularly unusual. According to Fairfax County, bear sightings are more often reported during the spring and summer as bears venture out in search of food.
“Black bears hibernate early November through March or April, depending on food availability,” the county says on its website.
Located near the Spring Hill Metro station, Adaire Apartments has a small expanse of grass with a path and benches known as Great Lawn Park, but the area is otherwise decidedly urbanized. The bear could have traveled from McLean Hamlet Park, which is just over a mile away on the other side of the Dulles Toll Road, or across Route 7 from Tysons Forest.
Fairfax County’s Animal Protection Police doesn’t take action to remove black bears, but any issues can be reported to the Virginia Department of Wildlife Resources (DWR) helpline at 855-571-9003.
The FCPD advises preventing conflicts by removing food sources that could attract the creatures.
Image via Google Maps
When Fairfax County’s new animal shelter opens next year, some of its first residents will likely come from across jurisdictional lines.
Last week, the Board of Supervisors approved an agreement with the City of Fairfax to provide services and housing to animals under their care. The city cares for fewer than 100 animals a year. In 2021, it cared for 31 dogs, 20 cats, and 11 other small animals.
On track to open in the spring, the new South County Animal Shelter in Lorton is expected to provide plenty of space for these furry friends.
“[The Department of Animal Services] already has a long history of supporting the City with meeting their animal welfare needs,” a county staff report said. “With the opening of the second facility in Lorton in Spring 2023, DAS will have ample space and appropriate staffing to accommodate additional animals from the City.”
The 23,000-square-foot facility on Lorton Road will be the second county-operated shelter, joining the existing Michael R. Frey Animal Shelter on West Ox Road in Fairfax.
The South County Animal Shelter will likely begin operations in late spring when construction is completed, DAS Director Reasa Currier confirmed to FFXnow.
The board is expected to approve about $2 million to help provide services, staff and maintain the shelter as part of a fiscal year 2022 carryover package.
“This facility will allow us to substantially grow the geographic reach and impact of our work for the residents of Fairfax County,” Currier said by email. “Not only will we be able to create even more families through adoption, but the second shelter will provide a hub for essential services from behavior and training support, veterinary medical care, pet supplies, and other critical services that help keep pets together with their families.”
Currier says the Lorton shelter will be “similar in size and footprint” to the Fairfax one, with 88 dog kennels, 42 cat condos, 2 catios, and a “state-of-the-art” veterinary clinic. There will also be an 20,000-square-foot outdoor space for the animals.
Like other shelters nationwide, the county’s lone animal shelter has faced its share of capacity challenges. Even before recent influxes of rescued beagles as well as cats and rabbits, there was a clear need for more shelter space in the southern part of Fairfax County.
“For too long, the many services and resources provided by [DAS] have been inaccessible for the residents in South County,” Currier said. “We are very excited about the location and are looking forward to serving South County residents and their pets. We are already hearing from residents who live nearby the new shelter who are eager to begin volunteering and participating in our programs.”
The shelter will share a new $30 million building with the South County Police Station, which will be about 31,000 square feet and is expected to open at the same time.
The building will have a number of sustainability features, including electric vehicle charging stations and space for solar panels, and energy-efficient systems. Landscaping will be made up of native plants and be bird-friendly.
The facility is on Lorton Road between the intersections of Workhouse and Hooes roads. Called the “Triangle” by the county, the parcel was specifically acquired in 2001 for public safety use.
In 2015, voters approved a $151 million bond referendum that included money to fund the Lorton project, which broke ground last May.
A pig that found its way to a local business that happen to be trained in proper swine handling has been returned to his owner.
The pig was caught by staff at Nalls Produce, a garden center located in the Kingstowne area, which turned the loose community pig to the county’s animal control division.
“How serendipitous that a loose pig wandered one of the only places in the area that has staff trained in proper swine handling with pig feed in stock,” Nalls Produce wrote in a statement on social media.
The pig was returned to the owner after a community search, according to second Lt. Kathleen Prucnal of the county’s animal protection police.
“Our officers occasionally encounter pigs in Fairfax County and they prioritize public safety and animal welfare when doing so. There were several calls received by dispatch over the course of a few days and we attempted to locate and confine the animal each time it was reported,” Prucnal wrote in a statement.
The Fairfax County Police Department advises anyone who comes across a loose pig to contact their non-emergency dispatch number 703-691-2131, though 911 should be used if it’s an emergency situation.
Nalls Produce described the pig as a “young full size piggie” and not a “mini” like Penny, the pig owned by the business.
Fairfax County Animal Protection has seen an increase in the number of coyote-related calls since a rabid coyote bit three adults, two dogs and an officer last month.
“The recent incident of the rabid coyote at Lake Accotink has understandably created concerns for many residents about wildlife and public health and safety,” the Animal Protection Police said.
However, they say rabid coyotes are relatively rare, and none of the calls have indicated the animals sighted have rabies.
Coyotes are well-established in the county, and it’s normal to see them in parks and residential neighborhoods. They generally avoid human contact. The coyote that was spotted in June displaying signs of rabies — biting vehicle tires and other aggressive behavior — was killed after he bit an officer.
Since then, there have been 12 calls for service related to coyotes in the Springfield area. Seven of those reported coyote sightings involved the animals living close to people but displaying normal behavior, two reported injured coyotes, and the others shared concerns.
Animal Protection Police says most of the behavior reported is not indicative of sick or rabid animals, “especially given the time of year with coyotes raising pups.” Park ecologists were also monitoring the site and did not detect any unusual wildlife behavior on camera, police said.
“Based on the information received, the Animal Protection Police and Wildlife Management Specialist do not consider there to be an increased threat of rabies at Lake Accotink Park,” Animal Protection Police said.
In one call reported in June, a coyote followed a person on a trail, but when Animal Protection Police arrived, the animal was gone.
“The event notes stated the coyote seemed to be displaying normal behavior per the conversation with the caller,” police said. “The behavior described sounded like the coyote was engaged in ‘escorting’ behavior where coyotes will sometimes escort people and pets out of their territory, especially if there might be a den nearby.”
Another call in June reported a coyote “circling, barking, and snarling” at Greentree Village Park, and on Monday, July 18, a caller said he was approached by coyotes twice in Lake Accotink Park but was able to scare them away.
“The caller was fearful that the coyotes might attack him and requested an escort from the park,” police said. “A patrol unit provided him a ride out of the park. There was no mention of symptoms or behavior consistent with rabies in the event notes.”
Police said most of the calls were not within the immediate Lake Accotink area and were reported several miles from the park throughout the greater Springfield area.
(Updated at 7:40 p.m.) Why’d the bear cross GW Parkway?
Possibly to find an easy meal or explore its landscape after a winter hibernation, according to the Virginia Department of Wildlife Resources.
A bear was sighted in the Belle Haven area on Thursday (June 9), and one Nextdoor user snapped some photos of it crossing George Washington Memorial Parkway near Belle View Boulevard, not too far from the Mount Vernon Trail.
The sightings piqued some social media users’ interest, with residents suggesting names for the bear and sharing photos of it around the neighborhood.
The Fairfax County Police Department says its Animal Protection Police and wildlife management specialist were alerted to bear sightings in the area over the weekend. The department has also received recent reports of a young bear moving through McLean.
Last week, a bear was also seen wandering around Arlington, though it’s unclear whether any of the bears that have been spotted are the same one.
While bear encounters aren’t common in Fairfax County, they’re not unusual during the spring and summer, when young bears old enough to be independent from their mothers spread out and seek food in green spaces that wildlife uses to travel, according to the FCPD.
Bear sightings have increased in recent years, as the animal’s population grows.
“This trend will continue in the future,” the county police told FFXnow. “Bears have adapted to living near people and we must also learn to adapt to bear activity and take responsible action to prevent conflicts from occurring in our communities by removing food sources that attract bears.”
The bear could be out looking for an easy meal as bears are emerging from their winter dens hungry, or it could be a cub exploring the landscape, according to the Virginia Department of Wildlife Resources, which says it’s important for homeowners to secure all potential food sources to reduce bear encounters.
In the past week, there have been several sightings of a juvenile black bear or bears in Northern Virginia, including in Arlington and Fairfax. Click below for more information.
— AWLA Alexandria (@AlexAnimals) June 10, 2022
Homeowners should secure garbage, compost, barbeque grills, birdseed and pet food.
“The goal is to make human sources of food harder for a bear to get than what nature provides — especially food that is high in fat and calories,” says Nelson Lafon, Forest Wildlife Program Manager for the Virginia Department of Wildlife Resources.
Photo courtesy of Jaclyn B/Nextdoor