A very unique visitor made its way down to the National Mall this week: a wild coyote.
National Parks Spokesman Mike Litterst said it's the only time he has ever heard of a coyote on the National Mall, in the middle of the capital.
The coyote was spotted running near a fence in East Potomac Park by a tree crew supervisor around 6 a.m. Tuesday.
The canine was out running early when very few people are usually around.
The supervisor snapped a picture before the canine ran off. Biologists suspect it came from Rock Creek Park and was just passing through the Mall area, Litterst said.
To get from Rock Creek Park to East Potomac Park, the coyote could have traveled along the Potomac River, over a footbridge and past the Kennedy Center. Or, it could have weaved its way through Foggy Bottom or downtown.
It's not clear how the coyote arrived in the park or where it went, but this is a truly rare sighting.
Coyotes have been confirmed to live in Rock Creek Park as far back as 2004, Litterst said.
But there is no evidence or records showing they live on the National Mall, and Litterst said he's unaware of any other sightings. Foxes visit occasionally, but less so elusive coyotes.
The National Park Service says they won't track the coyote and don't have any concerns about a coyote passing through East Potomac Park, a peninsula between the Washinton Channel and the Potomac River.
In fact, coyotes can be a beneficial part of the urban ecosystem, a Smithsonian scientist said.
"The coyotes are actually doing a good thing out there—keeping the cats away from native wildlife. People should give them a little more credit," Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute ecologist Bill McShea has said.
If you ever do encounter a wild animal, feel free to stop and look, but give them plenty of space and don't feed them, Litterst said.