A pair of Australian aerial elk-wranglers found out how dangerous their job can be when an elk they were trying to net leaped up and knocked their helicopter, causing it to crash.
The pilot and passenger suffered only minor cuts and bruises. The elk did not survive.
Wasatch County, Utah, Sheriff’s Deputy Jared Rigby told KUTV the accident happened at 4:38 p.m. on Monday, Feb. 12, near Currant Creek Reservoir.
The helicopter crew had been hired by the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources (DWR). Their mission was to capture and tranquilize the elk, take it to a biologist to have it examined and fitted with a radio tracking collar, and release it.
Elk somehow brings down helicopter in Wasatch County 😮https://t.co/XnUbKBWifK
— Adam Forgie (@adamforgie) February 13, 2018
A female elk is a formidable animal, weighing about 1,000 pounds when full-grown—and this one didn’t want to be captured.
When the Australians flew low over her and hovered, trying to get the net ready, the elk jumped up, bumping the chopper’s tail rotor.
According to KUTV, Wasatch County Search and Rescue, which responded to the scene, posted on its Facebook page, “This almost severed the tail rotor and ended the flight of this chopper.
“The 2 people aboard the chopper are okay except a few small cuts and bruises. They were both checked out by Fruitland EMS.
“As for the chopper not so good. Not something you see every day when an elk brings down a chopper.”
Unfortunately, the elk also died, Tonya Kieffer, Northeast Utah conservation outreach manager for the Division of Wildlife Resources, told KUTV.
Kieffer said further that the DWR will review the incident and determine what changes might need to be made to prevent it from happening again.