A research helicopter planning on capturing a deer, crashed after the deer jumped into the helicopter killing itself in the process in salt lake city on Monday.
The deer jumped into the chopper’s tail rotor as the aircraft flew about 3 metres (10 feet) from the ground in a mountainous part of eastern Utah, while its crew tried to drop a net on the deer, said Jared Rigby of the Wasatch County Sheriff’s Office.
There were no serious injuries on the two people on board, though the deer died of its injuries Monday afternoon.
The state contracted Texas-based crew were researching deer movements in the east area of Salt Lake City and planned on sedating the deer and putting a tracking collar on it once captured.
Helicopters are a frequently used and essential tool for monitoring remote wildlife in Utah, stated Mark Hadley with the state Division of Wildlife Resources.
“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 deer.” Hadley said. “As the helicopter slowed down, the deer collided with the rotor.”
The tracking collars help wildlife officials monitor deer 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.
The damage was to the 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.