wildlife.jpg

Signup for our emails

  

Login



 

Federal Aerial Accidents

AERIAL GUNNING ACCIDENT REPORT
USDA/APHIS/WILDLIFE SERVICES

Wendy Keefover WildEarth Guardians (Updated April 2014)

Accident and Injury Summary  - New Records from the U.S. Department of Agriculture came heavily redacted and incomplete and so the fate of crew members is unknown for several accidents/incidents*

*No Injuries: 33 accidents with no injuries
*Minor Injuries: 25
*Serious Injuries: 9
*Fatal Injuries: 10
*Total Injuries/Fatalities: 43

Total Accidents: 63

DATE CITY, STATE INJURY RECORD DESCRIPTION TYPE OF AIRCRAFT & ENGINE
2/12/14 Gordon, NE
NTSB Report

2 minor

On a low altitute wildlife control flight, the engine experienced a partial loss of power two consecutive times. Finally, the engine experienced a total loss of power and the pilot landed on the highway. During the landing roll, a gust of wind pushed the airplane, which exited the road, struck a fence, and a wooden pole which resulted in substantial damage to the right wing and fuselage. The airplane's usable fuel supply had been exhausted. Sheridan County Journal Star Piper/PA 18-150
1/03/11 Riverton, WY None
None
After 4 hours of an aerial-gunning operation, the engine died. During unscheduled landing, the craft went into a “gully” damaging the propeller and gear. USDA officials (not Department of Interior) apparently told NTSB and the Associated Press that they were “counting deer”. Cub
9/4/10 Oakdale, CA
No NTSB report
Unk USDA record: “During the first pass . . . the crewmember fired four shots at the primary target with the fourth rounding hitting the left wing lift strut.” Piper PA 18-150
3/08/10 NW Utah Unk USDA record: “. . . one of our aircraft was involved in an accident shortly after takeoff due to a loss of power.” Unk
2/25/10 Lordsburg, NM
No NTSB report
Unk USDA record: “The prop tip departed the aircraft . . . I had lost the end of the propeller and was making a forced landing . . . we contacted the ground with more force than anticipated.” Unk
1/21/10 NV
No NTSB report
Unk USDA record:  “. . . we had another incident this morning in NV.  It was nothing serious but it involved another ricochet with steel shot.” Unk
1/11/10 Wendover, NV
No NTSB report
Unk USDA record: Gunner shot the wing strut. Unk
1/6/10 Utah
No NTSB report
Unk USDA record: “A ground-handling mishap.” Unk
2/18/09 Mandan, ND
No NTSB
report
Unk USDA record:  Shotgun shell misfired in the aircraft. Pilot landed in a field and during taxiing for takeoff, the tail wheel hit a rut or object and broke off. Piper PA-18-150
1/16/09

Klamath Falls, OR
No NTSB report

  USDA record: USDA aerial gunners chased by a another plane.  USDA record: “I truly thought he was going to ram us from behind.” FBI and County Sheriff investigated apparently.  
9/12/07 Ft. Stockton, TX
NTSB Report
Serious
Serious
Mechanical malfunction of helicopter shortly after take off and while cruising at about 50' from ground level. Team was "collecting coyotes" to test for rabies. Robinson R22 Beta
6/01/07 Loa, UT
NTSB Report
Fatal
Fatal
Crash occurred at 8,300' in sagebrush landscape. Ground crew reported that several coyotes were in the area. No distress calls from plane before it crashed and erupted into fire. Husky A-1
1/30/06 Gail, TX
NTSB Report
None
None
The "airplane settled into a mesquite tree thicket while maneuvering" at low altitude. Piper PA-18-150
12/20/04 Terreton, ID
NTSB Report
Serious
Minor
Circling at low altitude, the control stick went 'limp,' the tail went up. Christen Industries A-1
12/01/04 Jal, NM
NTSB Report
None Pilot hit powerlines while training to land to pick up gunner. Piper PA-18-150
11/16/04 Idaho None Lost power, engine ceased running. Emergency landing. Husky 96186
12/18/03 Craig, CO None Bent propeller, went off road on turn. Piper PA-18
07/15/03 Zurich, MT
NTSB Report
Serious
Serious
Aircraft stalled while in a turn during a low level. Piper PA-18
7/14/03 Ely, NV
NTSB Report
None
None
In a practice landing while training for Wildlife Services, engine problems ensued. A wheel slid off the road and the craft landed in a ditch and flipped. Piper PA-18-150
6/25/03 Big Timber, MT
NTSB Report
Minor
Minor
Engine lost power. McDonnell Douglas 369E
2/10/03 OK None Power line strike, minimum damage to craft. Did not crash. Bell 206 BIII
1/09/03 Rexburg, ID None Aircraft struck flushed 30 to 40 sage grouse at 100' above ground and struck bird(s) -- causing a bent nose and wing. Husky A-1
3/8/02 Winnemucca, NV
NTSB Report
None
None
Lost engine power on landing following 5.5 hours of flying on a "local area animal control flight." Piper PA-18-150
10/26/01 Gooding, ID None
None
During coyote hunting shotgun pellet ricocheted off ground back to helicopter and irreparably damaged main rotor blade. Did not crash. Hughs 500D
5/7/01 Conchas, NM
NTSB Report
None
None
Aircraft sustained substantial damage while on coyote hunt. Engine failure possibly due to flying at low altitude in high humidity. Hiller-UH12
1/23/01 NV None
None
Gunner accidentally shot strut off of one wing. Plane landed and re-attached strut. PA 18 -150
6/1/00 Austin, NV
NTSB Report
Minor
Minor
Aircraft "collided with the ground" while flying at low altitude. Piper PA-18-150
5/3/00 Unknown locale None
None
Gunner shot propeller while behaving with "overzealous composure." Plane landed alright. Super Cub 91Y
3/27/00 Del Rio, TX
NTSB Report
Fatal
Fatal
No witnesses saw the accident; investigators suggest an "in-flight loss of control . . .[and] in-flight collision with terrain." Hughes HU-269C
3/13/00 Rio Vista, CA
NTSB Report
Serious
Minor
Pilot was flying in an area cluttered with wind turbines and powerlines. He hit a line and plunged 120 feet. Piper PA-18-150
2/19/99 Battle Mtn, NV
None
None
While in a turn, the plane encountered turbulence. Christen, A-1
12/23/98 Tooele County, UT None
None
Gunner shot strut during multiple passes to kill a single coyote, which went unnoticed until later inspection. Husky A1
4/2/98 OR None
Minor
Shotgun pellet ricocheted back and hit pilot in eye, shattering eyeglass lens and cutting eyelid, plane did not land. Unknown
3/11/98 Lebec, CA
NTSB Report
Fatal
Serious
During a turn, the plane's wing struck the ground. Pilot's shoulder harness was modified. Christen A-1, N9615G
1/22/98 Brackettsville, TX
NTSB Report
Minor
Minor
Engine failure caused helicopter to plunge from 75' to the ground. Hughes 269C
Lycoming HIO360D1A
1/15/98 Magdalena, NM
NTSB Report
None
None
Pilot lost lift and rotor RPM when coming out of a canyon. Bell 47G3B1
Lycoming TVO435B1A
1/14/98 Spanish Fork, UT
NTSB Report
Minor
Fatal
Helicopter struck a tree on passenger side after engine failure. Bell 47G-3B-2
Lycoming TVO435G1A
5/19/97 Bly, OR None
None
Propeller hit with 14 shotgun pellets. Unknown
4/7/97 Capitan, NM
NTSB Report
Minor
Minor
Flying at 35' — engine failure. Estimated $100,000 in damage to vehicle. Bell TH-13T
Lycoming TVO435B1A
2/20/97 Gooding, ID None
None
Gunner shot left strut. Unknown
1/13/97 Gooding, ID None
None
Gunner shot fully through flagger when gun "slipped". Piper Cub N74911
10/10/96 Holden, UT
NTSB Report
Fatal
Fatal
Crash attributed to poor maintenance and flying 75lbs overweight. Piper PA-18-150
Lycoming 0-320-B2B
9/30/96 Niobara County None
None
Engine failure caused forced landing. Unknown
2/1/96 Lakeview, OR
NTSB Report
Minor
Minor
Pilot distracted by gunner's jammed rifle — crashed plane. Christen
Lycoming 0-360-C1G
10/20/95 Richfield, UT None
None
Gunner shot strut off of left wing. Plane still flew alright. Unknown
5/25/95 Roundup, MT None
None
Bird struck helicopter and imbedded in windshield. Pieces of plexiglass hit gunner but he was not injured. Unknown
1/12/95 Dumont, TX Minor
Minor
Flying at 40' engine failed "catastrophically". Hughes 269C
Lycoming HIO360D1A
8/19/94 Ellendale, ND
NTSB Report
None No records provided by either the NTSB or APHIS. Bellanca BL28
8/10/94 Tinnie, NM
NTSB Report
None
None
A "wildlife observation mission." Pilot hit road sign during takeoff following a hunt on the Jim Cooper Ranch. Christen Husky A-1
Lycoming 0-36-C7G
6/20/94 London, TX
NTSB Report
Minor
Minor
While flying at low altitude, pilot experienced "partial power loss". Hughes 269C
Lycoming HI0-360D1A
1/7/93 Council, ID
NTSB Report
Minor
Minor
Crashed on an unplowed runway. Piper PA-18-135
Lycoming 0-320-B2B
1/22/92 San Luis, CO None
None
While making passes at a coyote plane struck and broke a power line. Unknown
10/11/90 Silver Springs, NV None
None
Gunner shot strut while hunting coyotes. Unknown
9/25/90 Haggerman, NM None
None
Gunner shot strut while hunting coyotes. Unknown
1/10/90 Rock Springs, WY Minor Plane collided with ground and crashed during coyote hunting operation. Extensive damage done to plane and 2 hours passed before plane was reported missing. Piper PA- 18
1/9/90 Casper, WY None
None
Gunner shot propeller while firing at animals on ground. Plane landed okay. Unknown
11/8/89 Alamagordo, NM
NTSB Report
Serious
Serious
While shooting coyotes, "airplane collided with the ground". Douglas C-54B
1/24/89 Sweetwater, TX None
None
Gunner shot strut. Super Cub N744
5/24/88 Spanish Fork, UT None Bolt came loose during flight and caused a forced landing. Super Cub N91017
3/12/88 Manti, UT None
None
Helicopter flying in snowstorm scared a horse through a barbed wire fence causing fatal injury to horse. Owner sought compensation. Unknown
2/3/87 Richland, WA None
None
Helicopter crashed due to mechanical failure while hunting coyotes 15-20 ft above ground. Bell 47-G3-B2A
5/12/86 Wilcox, AZ Minor
Minor
Plane stalled and crashed while hunting coyotes. Crash due to pilot error. Pilot fired. Piper PA-18
8/15/79 Artesia, NM
NTSB Report
Fatal
Fatal
Probable vortex turbulence and failure to maintain flying speed. Piper PA-18


For an Adobe Acrobat (.pdf) version of this table, click here.
To download Adobe Acrobat, click here.



 



 



Aircraft crashes as a result of aerial gunning operations. Photos from the National Transportation Safety Board.