Search And Rescue Respond After Elk Crashes Research Helicopter

James Felton 16 Feb 2018, 12:23

On Tuesday, Wasatch County Sheriff's Office in Utah responded to a report of a helicopter crash near the Currant Creek Reservoir, just southeast of Heber City. When they arrived at the scene they found a helicopter with crumpled landing skids (that's fancy talk for "helicopter feet") and a group of researchers crowded around.

The helicopter had been operated by researchers who had been out tagging elk in order to track their migration. Division of Wildlife Resources captures around 1,300 animals over the winter months without incident, Mark Hadley told the Independent.

However in this instance, they had a mid-air collision with an elk, which brought the aircraft spiraling to the ground.

The wildlife team were largely uninjured, but unfortunately the same cannot be said of the elk. Wasatch County Sheriff's Office / Facebook.

Whilst the team were attempting to drop a net onto the elk in order to sedate it, the animal jumped into the helicopter's tail rotor, around 10 feet (3 meters) off the ground.

"This almost severed the tail rotor and ended the flight of this chopper," the Wasatch County Search and Rescue team wrote on Facebook. The helicopter crashed shortly afterwards, with minor injuries being caused.

"The two people aboard the chopper are okay except a few small cuts and bruises. As for the chopper not so good. Not something you see every day when an elk brings down a chopper."

Unfortunately, despite being pretty hardy animals, the elk did not survive the collision with the chopper.

Under normal circumstances, the elk would be captured using a net and sedated, before being fitted with a tracking collar and then released. The nets are fired from a specially-designed gun. Tangled, the elk then falls to the ground, as this video from New Mexico shows.

In this case, the elk wasn't tangled by the net, and remained standing and able to move around. Then as the pilot slowed and lowered the chopper for landing the rear rotor and the elk collided, killing the elk instantly, KUTV reported.

Tonya Kieffer from Wildlife Resources told Newshub that they will review the incident to ensure it doesn't happen again.

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