What's up with those lights? Getting a headcount of the nocturnal among us...

(courtesy  LWYang )

(courtesy LWYang)

Don't panic at the bright lights! Starting tonight and continuing tomorrow evening, the Fisheries and Wildlife Division (FWD) of the Department of Energy and Environment (DOEE) will be conducting a nighttime survey of wildlife population in the area. They'll be driving around Petworth and the surrounding area with spotlights looking in trees and around properties looking for deer, raccoons, foxes and other nocturnal animals. It's for science!

They'll be shining two very bright lights around public roads but will avoid residences. So don't freak out if you see their vehicles and lights. That said, if you see a guy with a flashlight on your property, that's not the headcount. That's someone you should call 911 about.

In our area, expect to see the FWD vehicles mainly in Southwest Petworth and west of Georgia Avenue.

Here's the DOEE email sent out today:

The Department of Energy and Environment (DOEE), Fisheries and Wildlife Division (FWD) will be conducting a night-time spotlight survey to collect wildlife population data. The sampling routes are located in the Advisory Neighborhood Commission areas 3F, 3G, 4A and 4C (or Police Districts 2 and 4 (PSAs 201, 203, and 401-404). Weather permitting, the survey will be conducted on November 13 and 14, 2015 between sunset and 9:00 pm. Sunset on these days is 4:56 pm. In the event of inclement weather, that night’s survey will be postponed until December 5 or 6, 2015.
The spotlight survey requires biologists to drive slowly, at night, along public roads using high powered spotlights to locate and count wildlife (primarily deer, raccoons, and foxes). Two spotlights are used—one for each side of the road. Spotlights will be directed at lawns, wooded areas, and other suitable areas, but not directly at residences. Drivers and observers will remain in their vehicles at all times. If an animal is spotted, then the vehicle will stop and biologists will measure the distance to the animal using a rangefinder. After measurements are taken, the driver will continue along the route.
Please do not be alarmed if an official DC Government vehicle is observed shining spotlights in your vicinity. All vehicles used in the survey will have DC Government license plates, an official District of Columbia seal, or other identifying marks; only public roads will be used for the survey; and DC police are aware of the operation. Please report all other suspicious activity to your local police precinct.
Please inform your constituents about the spotlight survey.
Please contact Ms. Lindsay Rohrbaugh at (202) 535-2296 between 8:00 am and 3:30 pm, Monday through Friday, for more information.
Thank you in advance for your cooperation.
The Department of Energy & Environment
1200 First Street NE, 5th Floor
Washington, DC  20002

(h/t Commissioners Joe Martin & Zach Teutsch)