WASHINGTON — Animal control officers captured a wild fox Tuesday afternoon after US Capitol Police said that multiple people were followed or attacked by the beast near the chambers of Congress.
Photos of the red fox in a cage were posted to Twitter by Capitol Police shortly after Rep. Ami Bera (D-Calif.) told reporters that he was bitten Monday night outside the Senate.
“I didn’t see it and all of a sudden I felt something lunge at the back of my leg,” Bera said, according to PunchBowl News editor Heather Caygle. “I jumped and got my umbrella.”
Earlier Tuesday, the House Sergeant-at-Arms alerted lawmakers that Capitol Police received three reports of “individuals being attacked or bitten by a fox” after sightings amused congressional aides and journalists.
One fox encounter, which was not described in detail, occurred Monday outside the US Botanic Garden at the base of the Capitol. A second incident was reported later in the day on the southern side of the Capitol, the House office said.
In a third incident, Capitol Police on Tuesday morning “received a call about a fox approaching staff near First and C Street NE,” which is some distance from the first two encounters.
Bera’s bite was not described in the warning bulletin.
A fox was photographed by Yahoo reporter Tom LoBianco on Monday outside Union Station, where commuters access Amtrak and Metro trains a short walk north of the Capitol.
“There are possibly several fox dens on Capitol Grounds,” the House sergeant at arms office said. “Animal Control is currently on the grounds seeking to trap and relocate any foxes they find.”
The authorities warned, “Foxes are wild animals that are very protective of their dens and territory. Please do not approach any fox you see.”
The Capitol Police Twitter account, meanwhile, 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.”
DC does not have much wildlife, though foxes are occasionally spotted eating one of the city’s plentiful rats. In recent years, coyotes have reportedly expanded their territory into DC’s heavily wooded Rock Creek Park, but the relatively large canines — known to kill to protect their dens — are rarely seen.