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News archive for October 18, 2012

Vigorous reactions to fox’s demise rapped

The public backlash against Whitehorse airport employees who killed a fox last week is ridiculous, says the Yukon’s assistant deputy minister of transportation.

By Chuck Tobin on October 18, 2012 at 2:56 pm


Photo by Whitehorse Star

Allan Nixon

The public backlash against Whitehorse airport employees who killed a fox last week is ridiculous, says the Yukon’s assistant deputy minister of transportation.

Allan Nixon told the Star this morning some comments found in social and mainstream media almost border on criminal, and are certainly uncalled for and distasteful.

The Erik Nielsen Whitehorse International Airport employees were doing the job they are instructed to carry out to ensure required safety standards at the airport are maintained, he said.

Nixon said the investigation into the incident so far does not raise any cause for concern nor disciplinary measures.

Last Thursday, the employees, who have not been publicly identified, were notified of a fox at the north end of the runway.

In keeping with accepted procedure, they tried to scare off the animal but it returned to the runway two or three times.

One of the employees then shot the fox with a 12-gauge shotgun from about six metres away, he said.

Nixon said the fox was immobilized but did not die immediately, and the employees drove up to the animal.

One of them decided the quickest and most humane method of killing the animal quickly was to stomp on it with enough force to break its neck, and the fox died, said the assistant deputy minister.

The workers did not try to run over the animal with their truck, as some have suggested or heard, he said.

They did not repeatedly boot the animal in the head nor abuse it in any way, as has been suggested.

They shot the fox, drove up to it, and delivered a blow to the neck area to kill it as quickly as they could, he said.

“He felt this was the quickest way to put the animal out of its pain,” Nixon said. “He made a snap decision. He did what he had to do to make sure the animal died quickly.”

These are the same employees who are out at midnight plowing runways to make sure they’re safe, or up at 5 a.m. and at work by 6 a.m. to ensure no debris has blown in, he said.

Nixon said both employees were interviewed, and their recollection of the incident fits exactly with that of two other airport employees who witnessed the incident.

Wildlife control, Nixon emphasized, is part of the job – it’s a reality at airports around the world. It’s not a part of the job anybody likes, but it’s part of the job nonetheless, he said.

“If you do not deal with it, and something happens, the consequences can be pretty serious.”

Nixon said the pilot who landed the passenger jet on New York’s Hudson River in January 2009 didn’t do it to see if the plane would float; he did it because he lost power after birds struck his engines.

The fact that the next passenger jet wasn’t due in for 45 minutes last Thursday morning isn’t relevant, he said.

Nixon said all types of aircraft are coming and going all the time, and when the fox didn’t scare off, the employees were faced with their last option.

So far this year, he said, employees have dealt with about 58 incidences involving mostly foxes but some coyotes at the airport.

Of the 58, five have been live-trapped with the assistance of conservation officers from Environment Yukon. The vast majority have been scared off with air horns, bear bangers and truck horns, he said.

Nixon said six foxes and one coyote have been shot.

Part of the problem is that people are feeding the animals. When they become habituated, they hang around longer, lose their fear of people, they don’t scare off so easily, he said.

“And we have to deal with it.”

Mary VanderKop, the Yukon’s chief veterinary officer, explained this morning the examination of the dead fox showed it was shot in the chest by a shotgun, and was struck once with enough force in the front chest area to break a leg.

CommentsAdd a comment


Oct 18, 2012 at 3:49 pm

WHAT!!!!! First you deny that it was stomped on and then you say it was the right thing to do. If anything they could have shot it again…that would have been the right thing to do. WAIT! The right thing to do would not have been to shoot it at all!!!! UNBELIEVABLE! You are a horrible person to defend these two people.


Oct 18, 2012 at 4:44 pm

There is nothing criminal in any of the comments. We still have the right to free speech. If somebody can’t shoot to kill at six meters, he/she should never be allowed to pull a trigger and then have the audacity to tell us stomping on an animal is a humane killing.


Oct 18, 2012 at 4:45 pm

oh man, you guys, just deal with the fallout. The more you describe it, the worse it sounds, and ramping up the discussion by raising “plane crashes” and “public safety” and trying to convince us your employees really deserve a medal of valour is just making me wonder if you can walk and chew gum at the same time.


Oct 18, 2012 at 5:27 pm

What’s ridiculous is that they considered the fox to be a problem in the first place.  You really think the noise of a plane coming in to land wouldn’t be enough to send the fox on its way?

What’s ridiculous is that the ADM Transportation considered their walking up to the animal, still alive and suffering after the gunshot, and ‘stomping on its neck’ to kill it to be acceptable.

THAT is ridiculous.

June Jackson

Oct 18, 2012 at 5:29 pm

I have an opinion, that doesn’t agree with Allan Nixon’ I am ridiculous?
People have an opinion that “border on criminal, and are certainly uncalled for and distasteful”. 

I don’t care for your opinion and find your comments uncalled for and distasteful.
Its Canada Mr. Nixon, everyone gets a say whether you like it or not.

enough already

Oct 18, 2012 at 6:34 pm

Well said Mr. Nixon

Jackie Ward

Oct 18, 2012 at 6:41 pm

No Sir, it is not ridiculous. How that animal was killed should be investigated for animal cruelty. People’s comments are the crimes you say? Give us a break. Whoever inhumanly killed that fox should be fired. This is bigger than just the fox itself. What happened to the Yukon? At one time everyone respected animals and the environment. Now they are just viewed as a nuisance in our useless busy lives. Why can that fox get into the airport in the first place? Your incompetence of not having your own bases covered leads to wildlife getting MURDERED. The animals don’t know any better, geez. Us humans do. It amazes me how so many people who are obviously not qualified to hold their elite ranks have a job or even get it in the first place. Oh right, what’s that word? NEPOTISM.  I hope this story snowballs. You just want it swept under the rug. I have a feeling this is going to end up costing someone’s job. Good. RIP lil’ fox.

PS: Who’s bright idea is it to use a 12 gauge shotgun in the first place? I would say that is inhumane. And this story proves it. As a few kicks to the head was required because whoever shot the fox obviously couldn’t shoot his way out of a wet airplane barf bag.

Gay Haines

Oct 19, 2012 at 8:13 am

I find it very curious if the necrospsy said the fox died from gun shot and blunt force truama to the head, where stepping on it’s neck came from.  An after thought story?  If the employees shot the fox in the first place, seems to me the quickest and most humane way to put the fox out of his pain would be a quick shot to the head.  If you use thee gun once, why not twice.  Having said that, I have yet to hear of a fox being stupid enough to stay around when a plane (any size) is landing.  And if these people are planning on shooting animals around the airport then perhaps they had better take shooting lessons and learn how to do a clean kill.  I am sickened by this practice despite what Allan Nixon says.  My gut feeling tells me this is not all above board.


Oct 19, 2012 at 9:12 am

Disgusting.  Nixon is ‘ridiculous’, not the people who find this whole charade cruel and unneccessary.  Why not shoot every bird that flies around the airport?  Or better yet, whack them to the ground and stomp them to death.  How many bears were shot this summer in Whitehorse?  15? 20?  At some point we need to assess what really constitutes a risk, and I do not believe that a fox standing on the runway 45 minutes before a plane is due to land justifies the actions taken.

Laura Priestley

Oct 19, 2012 at 1:03 pm

Please do not assume that because a fox is hanging around it is being fed! You must witness someone feeding a fox or coyote before you can make that assumption, and it is then your duty as a responsible citizen to report it. If you cared for the wellbeing of the animal you would report it, too many people look the other way!
I have spent some time in the area and happen see the Richardson’s ground squirrels aka: “gophers” thriving in the area, which also happens to be an easy main food source for foxes and coyotes. It’s like you driving through Tim’s, Starbuck, McDonalds or KFC on a busy day.
Do not blame humans when the foxes and coyotes are performing a natural habitual action by hang’in where the food is!
The Airport however does need to step it up & stay on top of fence maintenance and gate procedures to ensure the safety of flights and ground crew. The possible preventatives measures are endless; it should not have to end in the death of an animal, trying it’s hardest to stay out of our way and still feeding itself in an area abundant with food.
I understand this is the last resort done but it should be a qualified shooter that has better skills to make it quick, clean, fast & painless. Not just an airport staffer, the conservation office should handle the grim task of shooting, every time!
Please report interactions with wildlife to:
If you see a suspected violation or know of one, contact your local Conservation Officer Services office, or call 1-800-661-0525 as soon as possible.
The TIPP Line operates 24-hours a day, seven days a week.


Oct 19, 2012 at 1:13 pm

What is ridiculous is the lack of fact in most of these comments.  It is commonplace and unfortunate that this happens at the majority of airports around the world.  The death of the fox was not pretty and guess what…it often is not but those of you with your heads in the clouds that let other people pave your way in the world don’t usually understand that.  If you want to be mad be mad at the people who fed this fox down on the runway or in the businesses around the airport and signed this poor creature’s death warrant.  The ignorance in these comments about shooting it again and the plausibility of the firearm used are also ridiculous, and borderline idiotic.


Oct 19, 2012 at 1:31 pm

Does anyone on any of these forums ever do any research or failing that, restrict their comments to things that they actually know something about?  Foxes can be a danger to small aircraft on runways (look it up there is lots of evidence) and taking a second shot from point-blank range would likely have been dangerous given the circumstances and that they were standing on ashpalt.  The ignorance and emotionality of these comments is pretty shocking.


Oct 19, 2012 at 1:36 pm

From beginning to end the government’s response has been ridiculous.
Take responsibility and spin it a different way folks: a collaborative agreement with the CO’s to handle problem wildlife at the airport- yes, good idea; an attempt to use more appropriate live capture techniques- yes, it shows you are taking some responsibility; and perhaps better training for your staff who messed this one up big time- yes, they could have done it differently- and really have you ever tried to kill a bird by wringing its neck- stepping on a fox’s neck to break it- its a serious lack of judgement. And please, the necropsy is only one piece of the puzzle.

Those people who actually witnessed the event should come forward with written accounts to ensure the truth is presented. The dogma and ridiculous statements from Black and Nixon are rich grounds for satire but the are also a very sad comment on the quality of government spokespersons.

And what about the very beautiful western bluebirds in small family groups that can be seen along the perimeter fence every fall. How much of a threat are they to aircraft? Will they be killed next?

G Hardy

Oct 19, 2012 at 1:48 pm

One of them decided the quickest and most humane method of killing the animal quickly was to stomp on it with enough force to break its neck, and the fox died, said the assistant deputy minister.

Mary VanderKop, the Yukon’s chief veterinary officer, explained this morning the examination of the dead fox showed it was shot in the chest by a shotgun, and was struck once with enough force in the front chest area to break a leg.


Oct 19, 2012 at 2:36 pm

My god people! Do you not realize how much damage one animal can cause to a 737? Would you have rather have one dead fox and 150 people dead too? Not to mention the cost of shutting down the airport for god knows how long just to deal with the clean up, there by delaying other planes, or having other aircraft redirected to other airports in the area. The little Cessna aircraft would be destroyed upon hitting a fox, and the fox would be dead too.

Or how about this scenario! 737 starts its take off run. Fox is on the runway and doesn’t get off in time. It doesn’t hit one of the wheels, but gets sucked into one of the engines. Fox is dead, again! The 737 can’t stop in time and goes off the edge of the cliff and into the ravine, killing everyone on board.

Think about that first before you go attacking those workers that are trying to save your life!!! And the life of every other air traveler.

Louise Hues

Oct 19, 2012 at 3:46 pm

There is research out there in regard to cruelty to animals, that children who are cruel to animals can grow up, and as adults be cruel to people (and animals).  I do not know any of the people involved nor am I qualified to determine or judge anyone as cruel as this subject is very complex!  One article on the subject of cruelty or on any subject gives limited information thus research is required. But the link to an article is below.  So my comment is not about the people involved but the act.  One thing I do know is cruelty and this appears to me to be a cruel act committed against an itty bitty fox!

Children Who are Cruel to Animals: When to Worry
By Joni E. Johnston, Psy.D. on April 27, 2011 - 1:20pm


Oct 19, 2012 at 6:31 pm

The animal was probably dead and they only made sure it was not suffering.Let this go and do not create another Trevor fiasco

Jackie Ward

Oct 19, 2012 at 10:17 pm

I grow very tired of the same useless comments. That seems to be your guys only argument, bringing people’s safety on the plane into the equation. Similar to the cries of “Will someone pleeeaaassse think of the children”.
Your argument has no facts to back it up. I’ve heard of birds being sucked into plane engines, but a fox? Give your head a shake. Like the fox will sit there and think: “Oh look here comes a plane. Maybe if I plug my ears, and sit in one place I might get sucked into the engine”. Doesn’t that just sound a bit stupid? A fox would never get within 200 feet of a loud 737. Heck they are skiddish around quiet humans.
A crime occurred. Animal abuse is a crime in Canada. That’s what this about. And sorry to burst your bubble but no ones safety was ever in jeopardy. Grow up and use that thing above your shoulders. Because no one is buying your childish arguments.


Oct 19, 2012 at 11:43 pm

There’s not a lot of substantiated facts coming from the government, either. I’m confused that the fox’s leg was broken. I heard the spokesperson say “dozens and dozens” of aircraft fly in every day. Lots of exaggerations.

I’m a little skeptical of all these people suddenly “feeding” wildlife, according to government employees.  Yukon residents are fairly wise about these things, as a rule. Another statement we have to take at face value or we’re just being “ridiculous”. I do feel for the employees and I’m sure the whole thing is very disruptive for the work environment. But the urge to protect animals is a good thing, not a character flaw.

Do research

Oct 20, 2012 at 11:43 am

If you think the fox would be scared of the jet’ noise, think again… The animals living around the airport are likely used to the plane’s engine noises by now, like any human living in the airport’s vicinity.

Check out this article on a fox crossing the runway in front of a cargo jet taking off in Manchaster…



Oct 20, 2012 at 1:14 pm

I am not satisfied with the dogma from Allan Nixon.

I want a full investigation by the Conservation Officer Service. Cruelty to animals is upsetting to people of all ages. And we want the truth not dubious statements from government spokespersons who have an agenda to push aside public criticism as quickly as possible.

Lets not let this one go until we are satisfied that it has been dealt with properly.

Ok, Researched

Oct 20, 2012 at 9:55 pm

There was an article in the Journal of Air Transport Management, concerning “Wildlife management practices at western Canadian airports”. In the review of responding airports in Western Canada, it was reported that use of “Active Non-Lethal Control Methods” dogs, noise harassment, non-electric fences and light harassment were the 4 methods deemed most effective (of 10 non-lethal methods.) Of active lethal methods, “sharp shooting” (quotes mine) and trapping were found to be most effective of 4 chosen methods. In all these methods nowhere does it state that, ” the quickest and most humane method of killing the animal quickly was to stomp on it with enough force to break its neck”. This is cruel and inhumane treatment. For any interested in the article quoted above it can be found at,


Oct 21, 2012 at 12:14 am

Obviously the public will not put up with the airport’s brutal killing policy. Based on public opinion, it’s time the airport take responsibility, deal effectively with those responsible, implement preventative measures, and if and when an animal problem really gets beyond humane solutions, and a decision is made to kill, don’t send in the closest Rambo, make sure you have an on-call professional.

There is no excuse for what happened. This is not about a potential plane crash. This is about poor/lazy/“cost effective” planning and decision making that lead to brutalizing an animal. 

Be professional. It is time to take responsibility.

Josey Wales

Oct 21, 2012 at 6:22 am

seems we have two Fox stories that just never end.
One a critter gets offed doing what they always do…try to survive.
Airport crew did what they “deemed” appropriate and within their protocol, good job crew despite some waaaaaaaay out there comments.

In the other?
A Silverfox whom different from the other fox that did get through life on its own merits…chose a life of very poor care/bad life choices and NGO’s are trying to spin as “all our faults”.

Emotional nonsense from the “solve our problems crews” that feel we should all go beyond outta of our way to cater to the foxes of this town.
both foxes in this weeks stories, have sufficient infrastructure to ensure all they need and “want” is there for them.

in summary, a fed & coddled fox will eventually lose its own skills, will be a dead fox.

To all foxes who have met this fate?
We live in a eat or be eaten world, or did until social workers were invented.
Whilst not all foxes know/knew this, the wild ones sure do/did!


Oct 21, 2012 at 5:58 pm

This investigation may be tainted. Was the CO service told it was an internal matter and asked to stand down and comment only on the necropsy results?

Was there professional courtesy between 2 government agencies resulting in highways investigating its own staff?
Why is the ADM of highways investigating and not the Conservation Officers who have more experience and knowledge of the wildlife laws. Highways has a vested interest in making this issue go away as soon as possible. With that in mind there should have been an external investigation.

Common folks, we all know that airport staff can eliminate problem wildlife. The issue is what measures have been used in the past to deal with the foxes- is the fencing effective, for example? And most people want to know if this incident was an inept attempt that was cruel to the fox that was killed. If that is the case should the people involved receive more training or should someone else be taking care of problem wildlife at the airport. Mr. Nixon seems to sugar coat what happened and some of his comments are ridiculous.

Was this fox screaming for its life and if so for how long? In my mind that would constitute cruelty.
I would like to see an independent investigation and have confidence that the truth has been put forward.


Oct 22, 2012 at 1:36 pm

Sam:  Did you actually read any of the stories on this or do any research into this type of scenario?  The HPW staff on the tarmack have a permit to control wildlife and in the event that one is killed that Environment automatically are on the hook to perform a post-mortem or a necropsy on the animal, and to report those findings to HPW and to the public.  That’s it…that’s how it works.  A fence will keep the foxes off the tarmack?  “Common” yourself…foxes climb trees and will find a way over or under any fence.


Oct 22, 2012 at 5:32 pm

I agree with sam. Environment should investigate cruelty and their investigation should go far beyond a necropsy.
Ever heard of an electric fence? I know they work and are inexpensive and if saftey is the issue- why not. And you can check and repair holes.
The ignorance of your dogma is ridiculous, and borderline idiotic. Do you work with Highways?

Jackie Ward

Oct 22, 2012 at 6:30 pm

Lol @ “Do some research” who quoted a story half way around the world to try and justify their opinion. 2 diffrent habitats. You can’t be serious? Is that what qualifies as research today? Googling a phrase and copy and pasting the address then calling it research? That fox was inhumanly killed. Post a thousand articles, post a thousand responses. Thumb my comment down a thousand times. It does not change reality. Seems the people taking the governments side on this are grasping straws.


Oct 23, 2012 at 9:09 am

I find the comment of Josey Wales unfortunate and offending.

fred smith

Oct 23, 2012 at 11:51 am


I agree with sam. Environment should investigate cruely and their investigation should go far beyond a necropsy.
Ever heard of an electric fence? I know they work and are inexpensive and if safety is the issue- why not. And you can check and repair holes.
The ignorance of your dogma is ridiculous, and borderline idiotic. Do you work with Highways?


Oct 23, 2012 at 12:43 pm

I think I might have found Josey Wales comment offensive too, but mostly it was incoherent, so it’s hard to say, really.


Oct 23, 2012 at 1:10 pm

Frank:  So you would erect a 10 foot high electronic fence around the entire perimeter of the airport property in the hope of keeping out all wildlife, including foxes?  THAT is idiotic and obviously you have zero experience in wildlife control.  No - I don’t work for HPW.  You cannot energize an entire chain-link fence of that mass to keep out wildlife.  Also, perhaps you should do a bit of research into the acts that are enforced by environment; they don’t enforce legislation that relates to animal cruelty.  You have no idea what you are talking about.

Josey Wales

Oct 23, 2012 at 1:23 pm

Susan, funny thing about public forums…is that from time to time one may read/hear something that either offends them or upsets them….kinda why I have a POV here.
The very fact that I live in a town that has evolved into a village of many (not all) idiots, full of bleats to babysit every wild organism and human being that is having a tough time.

Organisms of many types fall daily for a myriad of reasons waaaaay beyond the control of some “collective society” of good intentioned folks.
Folks here in town have factored wildlife “into” their lives and if not should. Said wildlife often dies…periodically we do too when crossing paths, life is cruel that way.

There are lots of folks here also whom can never seem to stay sober.
That said, scads of folks here in town deal with the fallout of those whom fall into “A” lifestyle…many it is so..a lifestyle.
I as a town folk can AND will from time to time remind those folks and their enablers that I’m tired of hearing it.

If reality offends you Susan, please grab a CPAWS flyer, turn on CBC whatever you need to do returning to your bubble of happiness free of the potential to be…gasp…“offended”.
Regardless of how you may feel if read, please try to have a better day…than wasting it being offended.


Oct 23, 2012 at 2:01 pm

Whats ridiculous is this is our daily news in the Yukon? Maybe if we didnt feed wild animals then they wouldn’t be a problem. Its weird how everyone is crying over one fox, there are more important issues going on in the Communities.


Oct 23, 2012 at 11:15 pm

Maybe you should look at what electric fences do to very sensitive navigational equipment that is required at our airport. We don’t have radar, so we need radios and beacons, which can’t even have a chain link fence around it!
I think people should perhaps research not only wildlife on the airfield but also their possible solutions that they come up with.


Oct 24, 2012 at 10:49 am

I think a lot of these comments are absurd. Some people have gone overboard with their “kill the humans, save the fox” mentallity,  Get a life people it was a nusance animal, and depite efforts to remove or trap the animal, a last resort was taken.  GET OVER IT.

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