West Fargo staffer for Sen. John Hoeven fights off fox on Capitol Hill
Lauren Limke, a legislative correspondent for North Dakota Sen. John Hoeven, had an up-close experience with one of the foxes that have made a home on Capitol Hill this past week.
WASHINGTON, D.C. — Lauren Limke, a legislative correspondent for North Dakota Sen. John Hoeven ’s office, has a fairly standard routine when leaving her job on Capitol Hill.
While walking to Union Station to leave for the night, Limke will call her mother back in West Fargo. That routine was disrupted Monday night, April 4, when Limke had to ward off one of the rabid foxes that have been roaming the Capitol ground this past week.
Limke was in the office late Monday night because of a vote at the Capitol, meaning she didn’t get to leave work until 7:30 p.m. On her walk, she encountered one of the now-famous foxes. “As of Monday night, there were no alerts out for the fox. It wasn’t news, it wasn’t publicized, nothing yet,” she recalled to The Forum.
Fortunately for Limke, her AirPods headphones had died that morning, meaning she was able to hear the fox approaching her. “Because (the AirPods) had died, I was able to hear some sort of an animal, some footsteps coming behind me. I turned around and saw the fox following me,” she said.
Limke decided to pick up the pace, hoping to put some distance between her and the animal. “I started walking a bit faster and realized it wasn’t just roaming, it was following me,” she explained. “I started running trying to get out of the area as quick as I could, then it started running faster after me.”
Once it became obvious the fox wasn’t backing down, Limke turned around, swung her backpack and “gave it a pretty good smack,” and it ultimately left her alone.
California Rep. Ami Bera wasn’t as lucky. The Democrat representing Sacremento’s eastern and southern suburbs was bitten by one of the foxes and is currently receiving a series of rabies shots at the recommendation of the Capitol physician. “Thankfully because I went untouched, I don’t have to go through that,” Limke said.
The following morning, Limke regaled her co-workers of her encounter with the fox, though they remained skeptical. “Nobody believed me. I told two of my coworkers that morning and both guys thought I was making this up,” she said. “They thought maybe it was a dog or maybe I was exaggerating a little bit.”
Hours later, Limke was vindicated when a Senate-wide email went out cautioning workers that potentially rabid foxes were roaming the area.
Swinging her backpack to fend off the critter was pure instinct for Limke. Coming from a sports family, she missed out on hunting seasons, meaning she didn’t have much in the way of previous experience with wildlife. “It was either I get it to go away or it bites me,” she said. “There was really no way of going around it.”
Encountering a fox in the middle of the nation’s capital certainly wasn’t listed on the job description when Limke started working for Hoeven. “I never thought we’d have to deal with wild animals other than the dead ones we have on the walls in Sen. Hoeven’s office.”
So while Limke never expected her Monday night encounter to become part of a national news story, she’s ready should the foxes return. “I guess I might be the one on call, so we’ll see,” she joked.