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Aerial Gunning Accidents Mount to 108 as Groups Call to End Aerial Gunning
POWDER RIVER, W.Y. - A crew out hunting coyotes crashed their helicopter near Powder River, Wyoming, according to records released today by WildEarth Guardians and Animal Defense League of Arizona. The October 30th accident adds to a rising toll and fuels a national call to end aerial shooting of coyotes and other wildlife.
In this latest incident, a helicopter operated by Wyoming Air Corporation, experienced a malfunction that forced the helicopter to make a “hard landing,” causing an undisclosed minor injury to the pilot. This crash, the 108th, marks the second accident for this year but the 9th in Wyoming. It is unknown whether the Powder River crew was operating under contract from the federal or state government.
The lion’s share of aerial gunning takes place in the West as part of a $100 million a year federal program called Wildlife Services, an arm of the U.S. Department of Agricultures. In 2007, Wildlife Services killed 37,805 animals by aerial gunning, including 26,611 coyotes, 348 bobcats, and 2 gray wolves.
In 2007, the USDA-APHIS-Wildlife Services spent $3.8 million in Wyoming alone to kill 10,915 coyotes, in addition to other wildlife. Added to that, the State of Wyoming spends approximately $6 million dollars each year on coyote and predator eradication programs.
“Congress needs to slash funding given the waste of money and danger involved in aerial gunning,” said Wendy Keefover-Ring of WildEarth Guardians. “The aerial assault on wildlife may actually cause coyote conflicts as the animals compensate for deaths by either bearing larger litters or permitting more animals in the pack to breed.”
In aerial hunts, pilots often fly at low altitudes with little margin for error. In 108 plane or helicopter crashes recorded by the groups, distracted pilots have flown into power lines, trees and land formations. In some instances, gunners have shot their own aircraft or bullet casings have become lodged in the cabin’s mechanical workings.
AGRO: A national coalition to end aerial gunning of wildlife, is headed by WildEarth Guardians.
View NTSB accident report for Powder River incident: http://www.ntsb.gov/ntsb/brief.asp?ev_id=20081030X14507&key=1
View aerial gunning accidents reports with links to the NTSB: http://www.goagro.org/
Look at the relatively small wildlife toll on livestock: http://www.peer.org/news/news_id.php?row_id=686
Find out about the national effort to ban aerial gunning: http://www.peer.org/news/news_id.php?row_id=868