Crashes kill biologists in California and Oregon
From ANIMAL PEOPLE, March 2010:
FRESNO, CORVALLIS–Air-craft accidents during wildlife
population counts killed five wildlife agency workers in two weeks in
California Department of Fish & Game biologists Clu Cotter
and Kevin O’Connor, and scientists’ aide Tom Stolberg, died on
January 4 when their helicopter hit a power line while they were
counting deer near Redinger Lake, in the Sierra National Forest.
U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service pilot Vernon Ray Bentley and
David Pitkin, a former Fish & Wildlife Service employee working as a
consultant, were killed on January 17 when their single-engine
Cessna crashed west of Philomath, Oregon. They were returning to
Corvallis after surveying duck and goose populations in coastal
estuaries, said Fish & Wildlife Service spokesperson David Platte.
The incidents recalled the October 2009 death of Friends of
Animals consultant Gordon Haber during an aerial wolf survey in
Denali National Park, Alaska, and the September 2007 death of
Washington Department of Fish & Wildlife carnivore specialist Rocky
Spencer in a helicopter accident.
Bentley and Pitkin were reportedly the first human deaths in
the 54-year history of the Fish & Wildlife Service aerial bird
surveys. However, 10 employees have been killed and 28 injured in
more than 50 aircraft crashes since 1979 during coyote-killing
missions by the former Fish & Wildlife Service agency that now is
USDA Wildlife Services. The agency was moved to the USDA in 1986.