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.
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Lake Accotink Park Prepares 60th Birthday Celebration — “A daylong event will be held Saturday, Aug. 27, 2022, for the 60th anniversary of Lake Accotink Park. Members of the public are invited from 11 a.m. until 4 p.m. for special cost-free activities. Bring your family for classes, demonstrations, historical guided experiences and much more.” [Fairfax County Park Authority]
It’s Thursday — Rain until evening. High of 82 and low of 73. Sunrise at 5:52 am and sunset at 8:38 pm. [Weather.gov]
A coyote reportedly bit multiple people in the Springfield area this weekend, including a police officer who shot it.
The Fairfax County Police Department says it received a report around 8 a.m. on Saturday (June 4) of three adults being bitten by a wild coyote in Lake Accotink Park. The animal also bit two dogs, police later confirmed.
Animal protection officers launched a search of the park and coordinated with the Fairfax County Park Authority to clear it and close it to visitors. A police helicopter provided assistance, but the search wrapped up after dusk with no more coyote sightings.
The coyote reportedly resurfaced yesterday morning (Sunday) in the neighborhood along Carrleigh Parkway.
“Community members had seen the animal biting tires, which is indicative of rabid behavior,” FCPD Lt. Dan Spital said in an afternoon press conference.
— Fairfax County Police (@FairfaxCountyPD) June 5, 2022
“The animal snuck up behind the officer, and it did bite him in a lower extremity,” Spital said. “The officer discharged his weapon several times and did kill the coyote.”
Medics responded to the scene and transported the officer to a hospital for treatment. All four of the people who were bitten by the coyote are expected to make full recoveries, police say.
Lake Accotink Park reopened at 3 p.m. yesterday, according to the park authority.
The coyote will be tested to confirm whether it had been infected with rabies. Results from the Fairfax County Health Department will likely be available tomorrow (Tuesday), the FCPD told FFXnow.
As of early May, Fairfax County had recorded 11 rabies cases this year, nearly all of them among raccoons. There have been reports in Arlington and D.C. of foxes carrying the disease, which affects the nervous system and is typically fatal if it reaches the symptomatic stage.
UPDATE: While searching the woods near the 7900 blk of Carrleigh Parkway, an officer was bit by the coyote. The officer discharged his firearm to end attack. The coyote was found dead nearby. The officer was taken to a nearby hospital for treatment. https://t.co/Zrx9rGZE4g
— Fairfax County Police (@FairfaxCountyPD) June 5, 2022
Photo via Ross Sokolovski/Unsplash
A 42-year-old man from Lorton faces criminal charges after allegedly sexually assaulting a kid at Lake Accotink Park, the Fairfax County Police Department announced today (Wednesday).
According to police, Louis C. Allen approached the victim at a playground in the park (7500 Accotink Park Road) around 6 p.m. on Saturday (May 21). He “unlawfully touched” her multiple times, first while talking to her in the play area and again after following her into the water when she left to avoid him.
“The victim advised family members of the assault,” the FCPD said. “When family members confronted the man, the suspect got into a vehicle and left the area.”
The assault was reported to police that day, and the family was able to provide identifying information on the man using cell phone footage, including the registration number for his vehicle, according to the FCPD.
FCPD detectives obtained a warrant for aggravated sexual battery and arrested Allen yesterday (Tuesday) with assistance from the U.S. Marshals Service. Allen was also served with three outstanding warrants: two counts of failure to appear and one for simple assault against a family member.
Allen is currently being held at the Fairfax County Adult Detention Center without bond.
The FCPD says anyone who might have information about the case or any other incidents of inappropriate sexual contact involving Allen can contact its Major Crimes Bureau at 703-246-7800, option 3. Tips can also be submitted to Fairfax County Crime Solvers.
“Victim advocates from our Major Crimes Bureau’s Victim Services Division have been assigned to this case to ensure the victim’s family is receiving appropriate resources and assistance,” the police department said.
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Pipe Replacement to Disrupt Wolf Trap Area Traffic — “Lawyers Road (Route 673) just south of Carhill Road will have one lane of alternating traffic in each direction via flagging Tuesday, May 17 through Wednesday, May 18, between 9 a.m. and 3:30 p.m. each day to replace a stormwater pipe…Through traffic will be detoured via Garrett Street, Trott Avenue, Vale Road, Hunter Mill Road and back to Lawyers” [VDOT]
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It’s Tuesday — Clear throughout the day. High of 73 and low of 58. Sunrise at 5:56 am and sunset at 8:18 pm. [Weather.gov]
One of the most heavily used trails in Fairfax County will undergo construction starting this summer to address recurring flooding issues.
The Fairfax County Park Authority is planning to upgrade a portion of the trail at Lake Accotink Park in Springfield. The $3 million project will add a 325-foot-long, elevated, concrete pedestrian crossing over the park’s dam outfall, along with approximately 300 feet of asphalt trail improvements.
“The contractor, Franco’s Liberty Bridge Inc, will be mobilizing on site with active construction activities beginning this summer,” the FCPA said in an announcement on Wednesday (May 4).
Parts of the Lake Accotink Loop Trail will be closed during construction. The FCPA says signs will be posted on the site and advises nearby residents to expect occasional construction traffic entering and exiting the park.
Despite the short-term inconveniences, the project will likely come as welcome news to visitors like Milo Nekvasil, who says he sometimes takes off his shoes and socks to walk through flooded areas on the trail during light rains. Heavy rains make it impassable for him.
Tree limbs, logs and other debris can clog along the path, causing backups where water would normally flow under the path.
Nekvasil’s experiences aren’t unique. Flooding is frequent and can be sudden, stranding trail users or leading them to wade through waters, according to the community group Friends of Lake Accotink Park.
“Excessive damage due to major storm events has required a total reconstruction of the trail twice in the last five years,” the Park Authority said. “This project will resolve these issues, enhancing safety and accessibility for park users.”
The project is scheduled to be completed in early 2023.