Government officials are denying allegations that a fox was kicked to death at the Whitehorse airport. Residents who helped spread the story, which became viral over social media, remain unconvinced.
On Thursday, about 45 minutes before a plane was scheduled to land on the tarmac, two airport staffers killed a fox that was on the runway.
Keeping wildlife off the tarmac is a federal obligation enforced by Transportation Canada, said Kendra Black, spokesperson for Highways and Public Works.
The nation-wide policy prefers using live trapping and air horns to deal with pesky wildlife, but it does say any animals resisting these techniques must be “dispatched,” said Black.
The fox population around the airport has been increasing and live trapping hasn’t been working, she added, although Black could not say how long live trapping has been tried, or explain why it is no longer working.
The fox on Thursday was killed “as quickly as possible … in the safest, most effective and most humane manner possible,” said Black.
But Kevin Sinclair, a Whitehorse-based animal advocate, doesn’t buy it.
He was meeting a friend for lunch on Thursday. This friend, whom he would not name, works at the airport and was very upset that day. He spent the entire lunch talking about how he was only 30 metres away when two airport staff inhumanely killed a fox near the fuel tanks, said Sinclair.
On Friday, the Whitehorse Star published a letter Sinclair wrote about the incident.
According to the letter, the airport crew first shot the animal with a shotgun, “taking out its back end.” The two workers, who Sinclair calls “hillbillies” and “dimwits” among other things, then allegedly tried to run over the fox as “it tried its best to pull itself out of harm’s way.” Finally, Sinclair alleges in the letter, “one of the zeros got out of the truck, kicked (the fox) in the head and threw it into the back of the truck.”
Sinclair’s letter erupted across social media like Facebook. He claims he has heard from three other eyewitnesses who gave the same story as his friend.
On Monday, RCMP confirmed it had not received any calls or complaints about the matter.
Allegations that the fox was kicked to death are not true, said Black. The fox was shot dead, she said.
Conservation Officer Mark Callan agrees.
“It was delivered to myself and I took it into custody to do a brief inspection of it and it looked in reasonable shape – in good enough shape actually that I considered offering it to our trapper education co-ordinator to use in his courses,” he said.
Callan couldn’t say where the animal was shot or how many times. He said he didn’t inspect the carcass apart from seeing that it was in decent shape, despite being dead, and took the word of the men who dropped it off, who told him they had shot it.
The carcass is scheduled for a necropsy “sometime soon” in Whitehorse, which may help determine the cause of death, said Callan.
Sinclair said he and his friend are positive the necropsy will show head trauma.
“They kicked it in the head,” he said, calling the government’s denial a cover-up.
Since writing the letter, Sinclair has also heard from several former airport workers who claim they’ve witnessed similar spectacles at the airport before, including incidents with stray dogs, he said.
“People are afraid to come forward and tell the truth out of fear of losing their job,” he said, adding that the city’s take on “nuisance animals” is mind-numbing.
Contact Roxanne Stasyszyn at