Leaping elk crashes low-flying research helicopter in Utah

In this photo taken Monday, Feb. 12, 2018, and provided by the Wasatch County Sheriff's Office is a research helicopter that was brought down by a leaping elk in the mountains of eastern Utah. Wasatch County authorities say the elk jumped into the chopper's tail rotor as the craft flew low, trying to capture the animal with a net. The two people on board weren't seriously hurt, but wildlife officials say the elk died of its injuries. The state-contracted Australian crew had been trying to capture and sedate the elk so they could collar it and research its movements about 90 miles east of Salt Lake City. (Jared Rigby/Wasatch County Sheriff's Office via AP)

Authorities say a leaping elk brought down a research helicopter trying to capture the animal in the mountains of eastern Utah

SALT LAKE CITY — An elk leaped into a research helicopter that was trying to capture it and brought down the helicopter in a collision that also killed the elk, authorities said Tuesday.

The elk jumped into the chopper's tail rotor as the aircraft flew about 10 feet (3 meters) above ground in a mountainous part of eastern Utah, with its crew trying to drop a net on the elk, said Jared Rigby of the Wasatch County Sheriff's Office.

The two people on board weren't seriously hurt, but the elk died of its injuries Monday afternoon.

The state-contracted Texas-based crew was trying to capture and sedate the elk and give it a tracking collar to research its movements in the area about 90 miles (145 kilometers) east of Salt Lake City.

Helicopters are a frequently used and essential tool for monitoring remote wildlife in Utah, said Mark Hadley with the state Division of Wildlife Resources.

The tracking collars help wildlife officials monitor elk migration paths and survival rates. The state captures about 1,300 animals each winter, almost all using helicopters, and Tuesday's downing of the helicopter was the first accident of its kind, he said.

The crew had launched a net it catch the animal, but when that didn't immediately work the pilot started to slow down so someone could jump out and hobble the elk, Hadley said. As the helicopter slowed down, the elk collided with the rotor, Hadley said.

The helicopter was damaged on its tail rotor, right skid and underside, Rigsby said.

State officials will review the incident that appears to have been a fluke accident, Hadley said.

Environmental groups have protested the use of helicopters to monitor wildlife.

The group Wilderness Watch is objecting to a plan to study mountain goats using helicopters in a central-Utah wilderness area, calling the aircraft "unnecessary intrusion into some of our most treasured lands," according to the Deseret News.

___

This story has been corrected to show the helicopter crew was based in Texas, not Australia.

Related News

Ford to invest $75M in autonomous vehicle sensor company

Aug 16, 2016

Ford and Chinese search engine company Baidu will invest $75 million each in Velodyne, a company that makes laser sensors that help guide self-driving cars

Navajo Nation sues feds over massive 2015 mine waste spill

Aug 16, 2016

One of the nation's largest American Indian tribes is suing the federal government over a massive mine waste spill that tainted rivers in three Western states

Ford says it will have a fully autonomous car by 2021

Aug 17, 2016

Ford Motor Co. intends to have a fully driverless vehicle _ no steering wheel, no pedals _ on the road within five years

Broaden News

About Us

In-Depth Science delivers comprehensive and compelling news and analysis on everything science and technology, seven days a week in a reader-friendly format.

Contact us: sales@indepthscience.com