WASATCH COUNTY — A helicopter crashed near Currant Creek Reservoir southeast of Heber, when it was trying to capture an elk for the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources.
The two-person crew was trying to use a net to bring the animal to the ground, so DWR biologists could come in and collar the animal to study its health and migration.
“This was simply a case where the net didn’t tangle the animal’s legs and bring it to the ground. The animal was still on its legs,” said DWR spokesman Mark Hadley. “Once an animal is netted, which happens at extremely close range, the helicopter quickly takes off to gain altitude. All of this happens extremely fast. Unfortunately, the elk took a step or two, the helicopter tried to gain altitude, and the rotor blade and the elk met.”
The elk was killed on impact, and the helicopter’s pilot had to quickly land the crippled craft again. He did so by placing it on its side, thereby protecting both people inside. They were not seriously hurt.
Hadley says they have done operations like this for many many years, and never have had this happen before.
The program is paid for by conservation groups and through hunting license fees, not taxpayer dollars.
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