- The Washington Times - Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Call of the wild

Coyotes in the heart of Washington?

Yes, says National Park Service biologist Ken Ferebee, who is assigned to Rock Creek Park. He spotted his first coyote there in 2004 when it darted across the road.

Now, Inside the Beltway has learned that coyotes likely have moved outside of park boundaries, building dens in exclusive Washington neighborhoods.

“The sightings [in Rock Creek] are not as frequent as early 2005 and 2004, so my assumption is that they’ve dispersed a little, perhaps into other areas of the city,” Mr. Ferebee said in a telephone interview yesterday. “We have had some reports in different parts of the city, so my thinking is that some of these younger ones went out and established their own little areas.

“But I still think we have some around [Rock Creek],” he said. “We have had periodic sightings and activity on deer carcasses, which have been [dragged] off to the side.”

Not to worry — if you’re human.

Pet owners, on the other hand, might make it a rule to keep dogs and cats indoors at night, as coyotes — gray to tannish, with long snouts, large erect ears and a bushy tail with a black tip — are known to hunt domestic animals.

“Coyotes will hunt house cats and small dogs. However, if your pet is leashed (as D.C. and National Park Service regulations require) and you and your pet are on a trail (as Rock Creek Park regulations require), a coyote will likely not try to attack,” says one Rock Creek posting.

As for small children, park officials say, keep an eye on them. Although coyote attacks on children have been reported in other parts of the country — one of them resulting in a girl’s death — they are rare.

For the 1,755-acre Rock Creek Park, which runs through the heart of Washington and is popular with rush-hour commuters, the reintroduction of coyotes into the ecosystem has been a welcome development.

“I think they help us control some of the small mammal populations that have gotten out of hand,” Mr. Ferebee explained. “Coyotes feed on raccoon and other larger animals, and there are plenty of them. Nothing’s been controlling the raccoons except cars.”

Most coyote sightings in Washington have been along the western side of the park in the Oregon Avenue, Bingham Road and Military Road areas.

Dinner category

Answer: This longtime game show host will be one of CNN’s guests to the annual White House Correspondents’ Association dinner on April 29.

Question: Who is Alex Trebek?

Indeed, Inside the Beltway is told that the network’s anchors and executives are brushing up on their trivia to prepare for the dinner conversation. Popular CNN anchor Wolf Blitzer, in fact, has expressed confidence that he can sweep the Middle East trivia category.

Noble profession

With an increasing number of K Street dwellers lining up for advice on lobbying rules and campaign finance, Larry Noble, the former general counsel of the Federal Election Commission (FEC) who later became executive director and general counsel of the Center for Responsive Politics (CRP), will be joining the expanding political law practice at the Washington office of Skadden, Arps.

It so happens that Mr. Noble will again be working alongside Kenneth Gross, the FEC’s former associate general counsel (he headed the enforcement division) who now heads Skadden’s political division. Mr. Gross has been the firm’s authority on campaign law compliance, gift and gratuity rules and lobby registration provisions.

“I’ve known Ken for 30 years,” Mr. Noble told Inside the Beltway yesterday. “This is a great opportunity for me to move from the public interest sector to private practice, to advise companies, contributors and lobbyists how to stay within the rules. And I believe most of them want to.”

Joining the nonpartisan CRP in January 2001, Mr. Noble has tracked political money and studied its effect on elections and public policy. He received the 2000 COGEL (Council on Governmental Ethics Laws) Award for his efforts to promote the highest level of ethical conduct among governmental officials and political candidates.

In his spare time, when he wasn’t testifying before Congress on problems with the existing campaign finance laws, he’s taught campaign finance law at George Washington University Law School.

John McCaslin, whose column is nationally syndicated, can be reached at 202/636-3284 or jmccaslin@washingtontimes.com.

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