News & Politics

Not Just Foxes: 5 Animals You Might Spot at the US Capitol

A possum once got loose inside the building.

Wildlife watchers were at first excited when a fox recently made her den on the grounds of the US Capitol. The story did not end well—the fox, which was rabid and bit passersby, had to be euthanized. But the episode was a reminder that DC is rich in animal life, even if you don’t always see it. A look at some fauna that’s been spotted on the Capitol grounds:

Possums

It’s not unusual to see them outside the Capitol, but when one was found inside in 1946, it caused a stir. Rumor has it that a bookkeeper trapped the animal—and served it for dinner.

Raccoons

They prowl the grounds at night and sometimes get stuck in the building’s scaffolding. In 2015, one climbed to the top of the dome. It was safely lured down with tuna fish.

Birds of Prey

A variety of raptors have been spotted above the Capitol, including red-tailed hawks, bald eagles, and snowy owls. A magnificent sight—and a natural alternative to rodent traps.

Coyotes

While there’s no documented sighting on the grounds, they’re probably around. Coyotes live in Rock Creek Park, and in 2020 one was spotted in East Potomac Park.

Ducks

The Capitol Reflecting Pool is a magnet for mallards. In 2017, a bridge was built to help ducklings climb in and out of the water so they don’t get stuck in the pool.

This article appears in the June 2022 issue of Washingtonian.

Jessica Ruf
Assistant Editor
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