A Mother Fox Is Captured at U.S. Capitol After Running Amok, Nipping Lawmaker: 'Most Bizarre Day'
Kevin Dietsch/Getty Capitol fox
A fox was captured on the grounds of the U.S. Capitol on Tuesday — but not before it apparently ran wild, getting into altercations with other animals and even nipping a lawmaker.
For at least a couple of hours, the fox on the loose — officials believe there was only one involved — was the big story for political reporters, some of whom asked about the animal while lawmakers departed televised press conferences.
"Have you seen the Capitol fox?" one reporter could be heard yelling at Senator Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, The New York Times reports.
Others were more personally invested in the fox's whereabouts, with Capitol Police telling PEOPLE that six people (staffers, lawmakers and journalists included) had reported "bites or nips in the area between Monday and Tuesday."
Humans weren't the only ones at risk.
One reporter shared that she saw a fox getting into a fight with a raccoon earlier in the week.
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Bill Clark/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Capitol fox
California Rep. Ami Bera was among those who crossed paths with the canine. A spokesperson for him tells PEOPLE the attack happened on Monday.
"On his walk into the office on Monday, Rep. Bera was nipped from behind by a fox," the spokesperson says, adding that the lawmaker and the fox "were toe-to-toe for about 15 seconds and Rep. Bera had to use his umbrella to keep the fox at a distance."
The spokesperson says "the fox's teeth pierced [Bera's] suit," providing an image of the fabric, in which bite marks were clearly visible. But "it was inconclusive whether or not Rep. Bera was bitten."
"Out of an abundance of caution and at the recommendation of the House Attending Physician, Rep. Bera received five shots of immunoglobulin, one tetanus shot, and one rabies shot on Monday evening at Walter Reed Hospital in Washington, DC," the spokesperson says. "He'll receive three additional rabies shots in the coming days."
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Bera goes on to act out for us how he spun around quickly, using his umbrella to scare the fox away.
“Someone was like ‘hey a fox is attacking that guy,’” he continues.
“Capitol police came out and then fox ran away. It was the most bizarre day in Congress.”
— Heather Caygle (@heatherscope) April 5, 2022
Bera has since been "feeling well and is happy to be back at work," the spokesperson says.
Speaking to Punchbowl News earlier this week, Bera said of the incident: "It was the most bizarre day in Congress."
Bera also detailed the incident on Twitter, riffing on the bite but adding a link to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's rabies website. "What does the fox say? Last night, I found out…," he wrote. "Joking aside, animal bites are extremely serious. In the case of an encounter, please speak with a physician immediately: http://cdc.gov/rabies."
Eventually, Capitol Police and animal control officers responded to the scene.
"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," the Capitol Police wrote on Twitter Tuesday afternoon. "Animal Control Officers are working to trap and relocate any foxes they find."
Within hours, the elusive creature had been caught, with the Capitol Police offering an update via Twitter: "#BREAKING: Capture," along with photos of the fox in a carrier.
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.
Animal Control Officers are working to trap and relocate any foxes they find.
— U.S. Capitol Police (@CapitolPolice) April 5, 2022
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Kevin Dietsch/Getty Capitol fox
Posting to Twitter Wednesday, 57-year-old Bera said he didn't hold a grudge.
"Thanks everyone for the well wishes!" Bera wrote, adding, "Hoping the fox and its family are safely relocated and wishing it a happy and prosperous future."
The story did not, however, have a happy ending for the fox.
A representative for the Washington, D.C., Department of Health told PEOPLE that the fox was ultimately responsible for nine confirmed bites on Capitol Hill and that it was "captured and humanely euthanized so that rabies testing may be done."
The fox — an adult female — may have been aggressive because she had kits, which were found and captured this morning, the DOH added.
"At this time, officials are working to determine next steps for the fox kits," the department said. "No other foxes were found on the Capitol Hill grounds, but it would not be uncommon to see more as there are many present throughout the District."