After elk crash, activists question wildlife helicopter use

Published: Feb. 13, 2018 at 4:06 PM CST
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The case of an elk that died after a collision with a low-flying research helicopter is highlighting the use of helicopters in wildlife monitoring, which has been criticized by animal-rights groups.

Jennifer Best with Friends of Animals said Wednesday that helicopters can terrify animals and called on wildlife managers to use less invasive methods.

The crew was trying to capture the elk with a net to fit it with a tracking collar before the Monday crash. Wildlife officials say it was a fluke accident. The two people on board weren't seriously hurt.

Mark Hadley with the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources says helicopters and tracking collars are the best way to gather detailed information that keeps herds healthy. He said they capture more than 1,000 animals a year and the vast majority are unaffected.



Authorities have said that a leaping elk brought down a research helicopter trying to capture the animal in the mountains of eastern Utah.

Wasatch County authorities said the elk jumped into the chopper's tail rotor as it flew about 10 feet above ground, trying to capture the animal with a net.

The two people on board weren't seriously hurt, but wildlife officials said the elk died of its injuries.

The state-contracted Australian crew was trying to capture and sedate the elk so they could give it a tracking collar and research its movements about 90 miles east of Salt Lake City.

Tonya Kieffer with the state Division of Wildlife Resources tells the Salt Lake Tribune it's the first wildlife monitoring helicopter crash in Utah.