East Potomac Park sits along the Potomac River near the Jefferson Memorial and the 14th Street Bridge.
Dan Rauch, a wildlife biologist for the D.C. Department of Energy and Environment, said Wednesday that “even though coyotes have been in D.C. for years, it is still rare to see them.”
He said they’re known to be “rather shy and elusive and would rather avoid people.” Rauch said East Potomac Park has been home to red foxes for decades but not coyotes. He said that the park is more open and exposed than, say, Rock Creek Park, where there are also more people. Coyotes have “small, established” populations in other parts of the city, he said, including in Anacostia Park and Spring Valley. And he said that there are “likely other groups we don’t know about.”
As to this coyote in East Potomac Park, Rauch said it looked “fit and healthy” and was not a pup. He said it could have been in East Potomac Park “while on a long-ranging trip from Rock Creek Park, or it could be scouting out a new territory.”
This spring and early summer, animal control agencies in the Washington region have said they are fielding more calls about wildlife from residents who are staying at home more because of the coronavirus pandemic. Many residents have reported seeing bears, foxes, raccoons and other animals in their neighborhoods.
The increase in call volume is not because of more wildlife but rather more people at home amid the coronavirus outbreak and seeing the animals, wildlife experts said. The animals have always been there. The humans haven’t always noticed them.
In the District, officials at the Humane Rescue Alliance said they had an 18 percent jump in calls last month about wildlife sightings or animal encounters compared with March 2019. Spring is typically the busiest time of year, officials said, as baby birds, rabbits and other animals emerge.