A Fox Is Living on the White House Grounds and No One Can Catch It Because of the Shutdown

Really.
A fox. Unfortunately, no pictures of the White House fox are available. (jans canon/Flickr)

Illustrators of children's books, here is your next story: 

The U.S. government has shut down and the woodland creatures of Washington, D.C., use the decline in human presence to take over the grounds of the White House.

Squirrels frolic in the first lady's vegetable garden, feasting on overgrown tomato vines. Bees are left to their own devices, their waxy cells dripping with uncollected honey. The birds have a field day with plants left to go to seed. And at dusk and dawn there comes the fox, treading gingerly through the long grass of the South Lawn.

All this and more is happening in real life, according to Eddie Gehman Kohan, the author of the Obama Foodorama blog, which chronicles food (and foodie) policy as it relates to the White House. The government shutdown, now entering its third week, has sidelined groundskeepers at the White House, who are barred from tending Michelle Obama's kitchen garden and other White House plant life beyond the most basic acts of watering and taking out the trash.

"The wildlife that lives on the historic 18-acre campus—including a newly arrived fox now making a home at the White House—are having a field day," Kohan reports. "Thanks to the shutdown, groundskeepers have given up on their efforts to catch the elusive creature, who showed up to live inside the White House gates more than two weeks ago. [The fox] has been spotted many times at dawn and dusk" according to the White House sources she says are "highly reliable and multiple."

Squirrels gone wild! This one is enjoying the offerings at the untended White House kitchen garden during the government shutdown.(ObamaFoodorama.com)

Also having a field day are "the many squirrels who live at the White House," she notes.

"The squirrels are always a problem in the garden, eating the berry crop in the summer months.  But they're now kids in a candy store, gorging themselves," Kohan observes. "The bushy-tailed residents are feasting on the ripe Sungolds on the vines, as well as on other tomatoes and peppers littering the ground, as are the many birds who call the White House home." These include "blue jays, wood thrush, mocking birds, crows, and some robins still lingering in what was until this week a very warm October."

This isn't the first time a fox has invaded one of the three branches of the federal government. In 2002 a fox dashed into the U.S. Supreme Court on a Sunday, leading to a full-on fox hunt with "two American foxhounds and a border terrier," as well as traps and animal-control specialists. And in 2009 a pack of raccoons briefly drew attention after taking up residence on the White House grounds.

Presented by

Garance Franke-Ruta is a former senior editor covering national politics at The Atlantic.

The Horrors of Rat Hole Mining

"The river was our source of water. Now, the people won't touch it. They are repulsed by it."

Join the Discussion

After you comment, click Post. If you’re not already logged in you will be asked to log in or register with Disqus.

Please note that The Atlantic's account system is separate from our commenting system. To log in or register with The Atlantic, use the Sign In button at the top of every page.

blog comments powered by Disqus

Video

The Horrors of Rat Hole Mining

"The river was our source of water. Now, the people won't touch it."

Video

What's Your Favorite Slang Word?

From "swag" to "on fleek," tweens choose.

Video

Cryotherapy's Dubious Appeal

James Hamblin tries a questionable medical treatment.

Video

Confessions of Moms Around the World

In Europe, mothers get maternity leave, discounted daycare, and flexible working hours.

Video

How Do Trees Know When It's Spring?

The science behind beautiful seasonal blooming

More in Politics

Just In