Coyotes on the prowl in Arlington, putting residents, pets on guard

File photo: Marya/Flickr

Suburban Arlington may not be the first place you think of when talking about a hot spot for coyotes, but don't tell that to Sandy Flourance.

The Arlington resident says that she has now encountered a wild dog twice in her neighborhood recently while walking her dog, and she's not the only one by a long shot.

"We weren't sure if it was a fox or coyote (the first time)," Flourance said. " It was in the backyard of a vacant house, and as soon as it saw us, it turned around and rushed out of the yard."

The folks who have spotted the alleged coyote aren't living in spread-out areas of Arlington either; the coyotes have been spotted in heavily-populated areas just off Lee Highway.

"This is not back in the woods or father into northern Arlington or McLean," Kim Klingler, the president of the Leeway-Overlee Civic Association, says. Klingler's association represents an area of Arlington mainly southwest of Lee Highway between 14th and 24th streets North.

Klingler says the association has sent out warnings to residents, cautioning to take extra precautions to protect themselves and, perhaps more importantly, their small pets.

"I have a small dog," Flourant says. "Lots of people have cats."

Wildlife officials say that animals like coyotes running around in urban areas is more common than one would think. Officials with the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries say that the coyote population has increased because there aren't enough predators.

If they're spotted, officials say the nocturnal animals are usually on the prowl for food. They're typically not territorial, but pets should still be kept inside and pet food certainly should not be left out.

That's not much comfort for Klingler and other residents, though, who'd rather the coyotes stay out of the neighborhood.

"I've lived in Alaska, so we're used to wildlife," she said. "In Arlington, it's a little bit more uncommon."

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