Yukon North Of Ordinary

News archive for October 15, 2012

Plane was due in 45 minutes after fox walked onto tarmac

Local airport officials are denying claims they mistreated a fox which was shot and killed by airport staff last week.

By Ashley Joannou on October 15, 2012 at 4:13 pm

Local airport officials are denying claims they mistreated a fox which was shot and killed by airport staff last week.

In a letter published in Friday’s Star, local resident Kevin Sinclair suggested the fox was killed last Thursday by two staff members of the Erik Nielsen Whitehorse International Airport.

He said they shot the animal, attempted to run it over with a truck, and later kicked it.

Kendra Black, a Department of Highways and Public Works spokesperson, said today that’s not true.

Killing the fox was a last resort, she said, adding that the animal was killed with one bullet in the “most effective and humane manner possible.”

The airport has a “regulatory obligation” to “ensure that the airport tarmac and runway areas are free of all wildlife and debris to ensure the safety of all aircraft movements and airport users,” she added.

There has been a “significant increase” in fox activities around the airport, Black said, and live-trapping the animals has not been successful.

“There are reports of these foxes being fed in the vicinity of the airport, which has made them resistant to typical methods of removal,” she said.

Currently, the airport uses a number of methods to discourage animals, including fences, relocation, air horns and bangers.

In last Thursday’s case, a plane was about 45 minutes away from landing at the airport when the fox showed up on the tarmac.

After trying all other methods to move the animal, it was shot once, Black said.

“Two authorized airport maintenance workers attempted to remove the fox using available tactics without success. The fox was dispatched as quickly as possible,” she said.

“We are confident that airport staff met their responsibilities to ensure the safety of the incoming flight in the safest, most effective and humane manner possible.”

Conservation officer Mark Callan said this morning the airport has a wildlife permit which allows them to kill “nuisance wildlife” that are judged a risk to public safety.

After an animal is killed, airport staff are required to give the carcass to wildlife officials for investigation, Callan said.

Last week’s fox carcass is currently being examined to determine its age, gender and general health, he said.

Once that is complete, the animal will be used as part of Environment Yukon’s trapper education program.

At this point, no official complaints have been made to the RCMP, spokesperson Sgt. Don Rogers said today.

Black said her department is working with the Department of Environment to “review the incident and ensure that appropriate procedures were followed.”

Thanks to social media, the story has gone viral, and several calls complaining about the animal’s demise were made to the Star’s newsroom today.

CommentsAdd a comment

bobby bitman

Oct 15, 2012 at 5:42 pm

Thank you Kevin for not being afraid to speak up about what you witnessed.  There have been so many examples of authorities claiming one thing only to be proven to be ‘misrepresenting the truth’ (I’ll be kind), by citizen videos, so I tend to take seriously claims such as your own, regardless of what the official story is. Whitehorse has become far, far too handy with guns when it comes to the local wildlife.  I am disgusted by the number of bears that were shot in this city this summer, and very dissappointed to hear about this fox.

Isabel Menzel

Oct 15, 2012 at 5:50 pm

That’s ridiculous.  This article is just an easy attempt of sweeping an issue under the rug. 
The fox was not dispatched as quickly as possible- I wouldn’t consider barbarically stomping a fox to death an ‘effective and humane’ manner. 
There were witnesses, and security footage.  I hope these workers get what they deserve.

June Jackson

Oct 15, 2012 at 6:00 pm

These days the animals are all on 2 feet and carry guns.

Jackie Ward

Oct 15, 2012 at 6:15 pm

I’ll believe the guy who wrote the letter. What does he have to gain by writing fake letters to the paper with his full name. RIP fox. It’s becoming the norm up here. Anytime a animal dares go around where humans are, it’s killed.

stan rogers

Oct 15, 2012 at 8:43 pm

“Conservation officer Mark Callan said this morning the airport has a wildlife permit which allows them to kill “nuisance wildlife” that are judged a risk to public safety.”
This I understand but its the potential cruelty that is of concern.

All people who witnessed this event should be interviewed and the decision to charge or not charge decided at that time.
Kendra Black, a Department of Highways and Public Works spokesperson should confine her comments on the right that airport employees have to deal with nuisance animals. She should not be defending employees since their actions have not been investigated.

Cindy Emke

Oct 15, 2012 at 10:02 pm

As if the fox would have hung around as the LOUD plane was approaching.  Give me a break maybe you think this was right….......you need another job.


Oct 15, 2012 at 11:29 pm

People there are more important things to worry about, than the killing of a fox.  Imagine if a plane carrying 300+ passengers hit it while landing.
good job airport staff for your alertness on this matter.


Oct 16, 2012 at 9:31 am

Really, you shot a fox because a plane was going to land in 45 minutes? I hope to God someone is held accountable for this inhumane and stupid decision.

Yukon Hootch

Oct 16, 2012 at 11:42 am

As I wasn’t there, I don’t want to speculate as to if the fox was killed inhumanely or not though I certainly hope it was.  No one is disputing a fox was in fact on the run way and that it was killed however.  To appease the public and to prevent a future tragedy the Whitehorse Airport should promptly repair their fence so that foxes and/or other sizeable wildlife cannot enter.  High chain link fence would be sufficient though expensive.  I guess “expensive” would be determined on how bad the Airport wants to demonstrate how much it values the local wildlife or if it cares what a tourist thinks of airport staff shooting animals that may or may not die instantly.  The Yukon Wildlife Preserve seems to manage keeping their animals in.  Perhaps the Airport could look to them for example.  The bottom line is there are other options than just shooting “nuisance” animals.  Shame on the Airport for not making more of an effort.


Oct 16, 2012 at 12:53 pm

Maybe invest in tranquilizer rounds next time? depending on how long they take to kick in… put to sleep and move, no harm done.


Oct 16, 2012 at 12:59 pm

As usual the experts come out of the woodwork after the fact and without having been there themsleves.  I was not there either and this sounds like a real shame but from another perspective I know that aircraft-wildlife collisions account for a lot of crashes and mishaps.  If the decision was made to kill the fox, as unfortunate as that is, and perhaps unnecessary, then along with that decision goes the responsibility to do this as quickly and humanely as possible.  Remember though that this activity, like every other, does not always go as planned.  I like the above idea about fixing the fence (that won’t solve the problem 100% but would help) and maybe some thought given to training these guys on other ways to deal with the animals…or at least to shoot straight!

RW Magee

Oct 16, 2012 at 1:10 pm

A 737-300 carries up to 149 passengers.  The aircraft weights 82,000 lbs empty. Now if a fox is hit by a 737 I doubt that the aircraft would even feel it. If we are talking about a Medevac aircraft, a King Air 200 let’s say, this would be a different story. If the fox was hit by this aircraft and the brakes were affected or if it hit the propellers reducing the reverse thrust or “beta” range the situation is much different. The aircraft lands at approximately 95 MPH and hitting even something as small as a fox the aircraft could have been damaged or it may have lost control. People could have been hurt. Yes the demise of the fox is unfortunate. But it appears to have been done after other options were used. Let’s think of what may have happened if the fox wasn’t removed, if the aircraft had hit it and lost control. People hurt. The community upset that the fox wasn’t removed. In my view the staff did the right thing for the right reasons, the safety of the public.


Oct 16, 2012 at 1:51 pm

charles behan

Oct 16, 2012 at 2:45 pm

These foxes have been living in this area for some time and there is probably a whole family of them just down below the clay cliffs…maybe next time you should let fish and wildlife take care of it. It only takes 2 minutes to make a phone call and have someone capture it and remove it to an isolated location. We should not be so easy to remove these animals if it was your son or daughter you may think differently. Thanks

not impressed

Oct 16, 2012 at 3:14 pm

I dont get the headline, something missing there, something missing in the story and something missing in Kendra Black’s investigation.


Oct 16, 2012 at 4:08 pm

Hootch:  You were not there and so don’t want to speculate?  I hope Kevin Sinclair reads your comment; he was not there either.

trevor braun

Oct 16, 2012 at 4:50 pm

45 minutes ahead of schedule of a plane wanting to land?
A 10 lb fox vs 50,000 lb or probably much more plane. If the fox even hung around as the plane was landing and even if it failed to get out of the way- really think you would even feel it in the plane? I doubt it. I know I don’t feel a thing when I run over a squirrel with a 5000 lb truck…

And then there is the issue of discharging a firearm with in city limits???  Sure Department of Environment can give a permit to kill nuisance wildlife but I doubt they can give anyone permission to discharge a firearm. That would be federal I would imagine and the City has bylaws against it. 

The whole thing stinks .....

Jen Dangles

Oct 16, 2012 at 4:59 pm

If someone didn’t witness it, and they shoot foxes all the time, then there would be no reason to report it to environment. It’s pretty disrespectful to assume the public will just believe something because a person who speaks for the government says so. Why not say ‘no comment until the issue has been examined’ or ‘it’s still pending internal investigation’. I am not impressed. Also, if the airport does regularly shoot nuisance wildlife (which is fine by me) perhaps they should consider adding ‘has great aim’ to there job recruitment specifications, or provide target training. If you have to end up stomping a fox to death because you’ve injured the animal and have run out of bullets trying to hit it again, you are not a good shot and have no business with a gun in your hands in the first place.

Jackie Ward

Oct 16, 2012 at 6:25 pm

Not only are comments censored here, but I think the THUMBS UP or DOWN as well. Lisa is the big hero here. And everyone who dare took the side of the fox had their comments THUMBED down. Why doesn’t my THUMBS DOWN show up on Lisa’s comment? What she said is utterly ridiculous. It doesn’t even deserve a response.


Oct 16, 2012 at 6:30 pm

Why does it take all day to have a comment reviewed on any of these stories?

Dorothy Drake

Oct 16, 2012 at 8:03 pm

OMG Whitehorse

Look I love animals too but really if the airport would of ignored the fox and it caused a plane full of people to have a serious accident I can just hear the comments about why something wasn’t done to the fox.

Animals, not in my back yard, my green spaces, save this and that.
May I suggest that you give some of your time to volunteer for some charities around Whitehorse so you can see what really is important.

Bob Loblaw

Oct 17, 2012 at 12:07 am

All the armchair Conservation Officers are simply oblivious to the facts.

Mr Sinclair, as you may recall has sensationalized human/animal interactions in the past.  I think we all can recall Trevor-gate which cost tax payers hundreds of thousands of dollars.

The undisputed facts are that a fox was shot.  Don’t fool yourself that this is the first time a nuisance animal has been put down at the airport.  Any numbers of bears and coyotes meet a similar fate every year in the city.  Most of these animals are lured by the sent of garbage, or more likely in this case by someone deliberately leaving food out for the animals.

These foxes weigh between 4 and 7 kilos and would be sucked into a jet intake faster than Cap’n Sulley could say “We’ll be in the Hudson!”
I love animals as much as the next guy but I’d rather see a dead fox than 150 dead airline passengers and whatever carnage that out of control aircraft might do to those of us on the ground.

Perspective people.  Perspective.


Oct 17, 2012 at 8:55 am

I think everyone is getting carried away with regards to a fox that was destroyed for safety reasons, not just for the sake of killing it. A plane full of people would probably want to see a “nuisance fox” dispatched rather than risking many human lives by landing in a possibly dangerous situation. 

I am shocked that once again some Whitehorse residents prefer to have an animals life spared over people’s lives and safety.  Where is the common sense?  Do people stage a protest when there is roadkill? Maybe people should veer off the road and risk their lives to spare the fox etc.

Why don’t they find out who is feeding these wild animals and encouraging them to be fearless of humans and developing a dependency on being fed. Not only is this adding to the problem but it is keeping them in an area that is putting peoples lives at risk. Good grief people give your heads a shake.


Oct 17, 2012 at 11:13 am

Hasn’t anyone ever heard “A fed bear is a dead bear?” .. Well that applies to any type of wildlife! In case you are a complete numb nut, chain link fencing does not do a good job of preventing animals access to a hearty hand fed meal.. I have personally witnessed a coyote slip under tightly professionally installed chain link fencing to gain access to farm chickens… Use your head now, a fox is a lot smaller and nimbler than a coyote is - so I doubt adding better fencing will stop animals access where there is a great meal to be had… And in case you feel like educating yourself, go on youtube and search wildlife aircraft strikes… Gives you a better idea of what can happen if a jet plane comes in contact with a wild animal.. This animal cruelty business is a joke, unless you’ve actually witnessed this then don’t go spreading around slanderous accusations!

On that note, Bravo Whitehorse International staff for doing your JOB and protecting a flight full of innocent travellers! Let this be a lesson to people not to FEED wild animals too!


Oct 17, 2012 at 1:44 pm


2 things.  Do some research on wildlife/aircraft collisions before you comment.  Secondly, do some research on removal of nuisance/dangerous wildlife on the airport tarmack by YG officials; it is perfectly legal and bylaw.  Bylaw has nothing to do with this; they are a municipal enforcement organization and any need for YG or federal authorities to discharge a firearm within city limits is beyond the authority of bylaw.

not impressed

Oct 17, 2012 at 2:39 pm

At least they put the fox in the headline, still missing the investigation Kendra Black.


Oct 17, 2012 at 2:41 pm

PFP wrote:  “Maybe invest in tranquilizer rounds next time? depending on how long they take to kick in… put to sleep and move, no harm done”

In other words you have no idea what you are talking about.  “Tranquilizer rounds” take several minutes to put the animal down and so what happens during that time?  You would have zero control over the situation.  Not an option and in terms of “no harm done” that’s just plain wrong.


Oct 17, 2012 at 3:12 pm

charles:  who exactly is “fish and wildlife”?  You are long on advice and short on details and actual knowledge about how this works…sounds pretty easy eh?  Do a bit of background work and research and come back to us with an intelligent solution.

Josey Wales

Oct 17, 2012 at 3:28 pm

Oh my. What happened to the Whitehorse that I/we used to live in?
seems more like the lounging grounds for the Sierra club or PETA training/indoctrination field office.

Seriously folks, I too love critters…sometimes ya gotta cull the herd.
Would it be OK if a coyote of wolf decided to hang around at 1/2 baked displacing new-age hippies from their lattes?

A few may embrace the opportunity to become one with nature, the rest would panic and call the experts.
yes a critter could cause a big problem on the runway…

not impressed

Oct 17, 2012 at 5:19 pm

Well I see that the headline was updated and that fox was added; can I be hired for proof reading?

"perpective" indeed

Oct 18, 2012 at 6:52 am

A fox getting close enough to to be sucked into an engine intake while a jet is landing? Rubbish. Stay in bed if you are that afraid of the world.

And if wildlife does in fact pose such an imminent threat to aircraft, then what if an animal runs out on the runway minutes before landing? Should there be a garrison of armed guards ready to shoot from all directions before and during all landings and takeoffs? It would only make sense to design a fence that works (yes, it can be done, as difficult as that is for some mechanically challenged people to fathom…).
The corpse could be easily examined to determine what injuries it sustained before and after death.  People who participate in animal cruelty are likely very disturbed on a number of levels and have no place in a position of public trust.


Oct 18, 2012 at 12:57 pm

Re: flyingfur

PFP wrote:  “Maybe invest in tranquilizer rounds next time? Depending on how long they take to kick in… put to sleep and move, no harm done”

In other words you have no idea what you are talking about.  “Tranquilizer rounds” take several minutes to put the animal down and so what happens during that time?  You would have zero control over the situation.  Not an option and in terms of “no harm done” that’s just plain wrong.
Being a smaller animal it would not take long to kick in. Either way, this is becoming a Trevor story. move on.


Oct 18, 2012 at 1:17 pm

Incredible outcry over a mangy city fox…Sinclair could sensationalize a fisherman putting a worm on a hook and he doesn’t appear to be alone.
Anyone who believes these men are disturbed need to look in the mirror, or have a 6 year old proof read their posts to offer some perspective.


Oct 18, 2012 at 1:36 pm

Perspective indeed:  read your own user name and then consider the following.  Many aircraft mishaps occur every year with wildlife…including small mammals such as foxes…not to mention a lot of near misses with aircraft without jet engines such as small, privately-owned prop-driven aircraft.  The other thing is to read this story and others before commenting; there is a necropsy being done on the fox by Environment and the results of that will be shared with the public.  You’re all against a fox hunt but have not issues with a witch hunt.  Kevin Sinclair strikes again with his Chicken Little view of the world.


Oct 18, 2012 at 2:44 pm

This is not about the shooting of the Fox, it is about HOW the FOX was treated! Yes we animal lovers understand why the Fox was shot, but what everyone is concerned with is HOW the Fox was shot, drove over and then kicked to death! Get a life, we do care about the passengers…..just not the cruel humans and how they killed the FOX!

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