Who Do I Contact?
There are a lot of resources for Fairfax County residents who want information about wildlife. So, which resource do you use? Often, it comes down to who has the authority to resolve your concern. This blog and its links may help.
First, here’s a web page with contact information for all sorts of people who deal with local, statewide and national wildlife issues: www.fairfaxcounty.gov/wildlife/contacts-and-additional-resources.
You’ll also find online A Field Guide to Fairfax County’s Plants and Animals, and the county website has information about wildlife species in the county.
Who Does What?
Next, a little about who does what and who may be the best person to contact for your situation.
Fairfax County has a Wildlife Management Specialist located in the Police Department. She oversees wildlife management, mitigates human-wildlife conflicts, and oversees the Deer Management Program and Canada Geese Management Program.
Also in the Police Department are the Fairfax County Animal Protection Police. They enforce laws related to domestic and wild animals, investigate animal cruelty complaints and dog bites/attacks, remove stray dogs, and respond to calls about wild animals that appear sick or injured. The Fairfax County Animal Protection Police can be reached through the Police non-emergency number at 703-691-2131.
The Fairfax County Animal Shelter is the county’s only open-access municipal shelter. The shelter takes in stray companion animals that are in need, companion animals whose owners must surrender them when no longer willing or able to care for them, and animals that have been seized or taken into custody by Animal Protection Police. The shelter does not accept healthy, adult wildlife for any reason. For questions about orphaned wildlife, contact licensed wildlife rehabilitators. For questions about shelter programs, adoption, and intake procedures, contact the shelter at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 703-830-1100.
The Fairfax County Park Authority (FCPA) protects the county’s natural resources. The agency partners with state officials and the county wildlife management specialist to manage animals. The Park Authority doesn’t “own” the animals, but it does teach about them. There are local wildlife experts at park nature centers, and those are the places to go to see and learn about wild critters.
Not all parks in the county belong to the Fairfax County Park Authority. Bull Run, Pohick Bay, Fountainhead and others are overseen by the Northern Virginia Regional Park Authority. NOVA Parks is a system of regional parks shared by Arlington County, Fairfax County, Loudoun County, the City of Alexandria, the City of Falls Church and the City of Fairfax. There’s also a national park, Great Falls, and Mason Neck State Park. Contact staff at those parks for issues in those parks.
Living With Wildlife
Please remember that it is illegal to keep or care for orphaned, sick or injured wildlife unless you are a licensed wildlife rehabilitator. It takes specialized knowledge and training to care for a wild animal. One of those rehabilitators in the Fairfax County area is the Wildlife Rescue League. An organization called The Wildlife Center of Virginia provides needed health care to native wildlife.
Remember, don’t feed the wildlife. That causes problems. There are state regulations pertaining to unauthorized feeding of wildlife, including deer and bear.
Information on resolving conflicts with wildlife is provided by the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries (VDGIF). There are laws and guidelines governing the trapping of nuisance wildlife, and a list of licensed wildlife trappers is available on the VDGIF website. The Virginia Wildlife Conflict Helpline phone number is 855-571-9003. This helpline is staffed by wildlife specialists who can help identify wildlife damage and recommend solutions.
Diseases spread by animals fall under the domain of the Fairfax County Health Department. The Health Department has information about rabies, ticks and Lyme disease, and diseases carried by insects.
County staff often receive inquiries or requests for removal of dead animals on private property or roadways. County staff can provide guidelines on animal carcass disposal/burial on private property, but staff do not remove dead animals. For animal carcasses on a state road, contact the Virginia Department of Transportation.
The Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation is Virginia’s lead conservation agency. These are the folks who protect land, open space, clean water, and natural habitat, provide access points to the outdoors, such as launch ramps, and manage state parks.
The Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries manages inland fisheries, wildlife, and recreational boating. The Fairfax County Park Authority works closely with VDGIF. Most bodies of water in county parks are managed by VDGIF, not the Park Authority. For example, FCPA owns the land around Burke Lake, but the lake waters are managed by VDGIF as a fishing lake, and all VDGIF rules and regulations apply. VDGIF is the ultimate authority on wildlife management in Virginia. Fairfax County falls under VDGIF’s Fredericksburg Regional Office (540-899-4169).
Other Sources for Wildlife Information
The Audubon Society of Northern Virginia is an excellent source for information about protecting birds and their habitats.
The Raptor Conservancy of Virginia is dedicated to teaching people about birds of prey.
The Save Lucy Campaign provides conservation education about North American bats and raises awareness of White-Nose Syndrome, a fungal disease, which has decimated North American bats.
The Northern Virginia Soil and Water Conservation District promotes soil and water conservation, prevents pollution and reduces runoff. NVSWCD is a political subdivision of the Commonwealth of Virginia that partners with government agencies to conserve soil resources, control and prevent soil erosion, prevent floods, and manage water. They heavily promote hands-on conservation, provide technical expertise, and have programs that develop young environmental leaders.
Here are a few other related organizations on the federal level:
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention are all about human health care.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has wide-ranging oversight of fisheries, wildlife, wetlands and more under the goal of conserving nature in America.
The U.S. Forest Service manages and protects national forests and grasslands.
And the U.S. National Park Service oversees national parks.