New Wildlife Biologist Hired

Fairfax Unleashed! Meet FCPD’s Wildlife Biologist Victoria Monroe

            Whether there’s a skunk stuck in a stairwell or a bear on a back deck sampling crumbs from last night’s cookout, the Fairfax County Police Department non-emergency lines handle calls every day about wildlife in neighborhoods. Wild animals are here, in our back yards, and residents are befuddled what to do about them. These human/animal encounters are times when a wildlife biologist’s expertise comes to the rescue.

            Fairfax County has had a wildlife biologist position for 12 years, after a librarian was killed while in a collision en route to work one morning in McLean. The original focus of the position was to create a management plan to help deal with the overabundance of deer. Since that time, the position has become an invaluable resource for the public, as well as Animal Control Officers, who are faced with animal issues every day.

            Victoria Monroe, 27 of Fairfax, is the newly hired wildlife biologist, based in the Animal Shelter on Ox Road, and she’s eager to hear your concerns and to serve as a resource for county residents.  

When did you become interested in nature and wildlife?

            I’ve been interested in animals my entire life. From my earliest memories, I knew that I was destined to work with them. I grew up surrounded by pets in our home; “Precious” our pot-bellied pig, dogs, cats, ducklings, goats, rabbits, gerbils and others. I spent my summers as part of the “Zoo Crew” in Pueblo, Colorado where I worked in the petting barn with baby llamas, horses, camels, hooded chickens, penguins, mountain lions, bears and many other species. I was also able to shadow along with the zookeepers and learned so much about animals and their personalities.

What studies prepared you for your position as a wildlife biologist?

            I majored in psychology, with an emphasis on animal behavior and biology, at Colorado State University and received my Masters Degree in zoology at James Cook University in Australia where I did research on behavioral ecology. I also served as an animal welfare officer for a branch of the U.S. Humane Society and worked as an animal care coordinator for Living Classrooms D.C., a local non-profit organization.

What is your most important goal in your new position?

            Educating, empowering and enabling residents with a better understanding of local wildlife are of key importance. I want to help the public understand that there are certain ways that animals behave that are perfectly normal and that not all wild animals are threats to their health and safety. But, that said, there are many steps residents can take to rid their property of animals they may regard as nuisances. Many of these exclusion methods are not expensive, lethal to the animals and are sustainable in the longterm.

What sorts of wild animals are seen in Fairfax County?

            Deer, foxes, bats, coyotes, raccoons, skunks, opossums, beaver, groundhogs, black bears, woodpeckers and others are seen across the county. Many of these animals, such as bears, move on through the area and won’t be any problem for residents. Make sure your home doesn’t become a food source and you’re not as likely to attract animals.

Have you had any interesting calls or assignments so far?

            Yes; I’ve been very fortunate to join a group of committed professionals who are working hard to preserve the delicate balance between animals and neighborhoods across Fairfax. We’ve held a well-attended public meeting on Lyme disease where I worked closely with members of the Board of Supervisors, other county agencies and the non-profit community. A homeowner called and asked me how to handle a woodpecker that was pecking holes in their roof and another caller wanted advice on how to carefully observe a nest of baby owlets in their yard. I don’t expect that any two days will be alike and I hope residents will feel free to contact me at 703-324-0240.

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