Officials say one person has died following the crash of a helicopter contracted by Washington state's Fish and Game department to help with mule deer surveying.
Garfield County Sheriff Drew W. Hyer says the crash happened at about 2 p.m. Saturday.
Fish and Game spokesman Bruce Botka said Sunday that a pilot and two crew members were aboard the helicopter when it crashed. He says the helicopter was operated by Hell's Canyon Helicopters.
Washington State Patrol originally reported three biologists with the Washington Department of Wildlife were on board when the helicopter crashed. A WDFW spokesperson said Monday that the crew members were employed by the helicopter operator, not WDFW. No WDFW employees were injured in the crash.
The investigation has been turned over to the Washington State Patrol, the Federal Aviation Administration and the National Transportation Safety Board.
The crew had been contracted to capture mule deer and attach radio collars to track the animals’ movements and survival. Saturday was the first day of field work in the Blue Mountains, according to the WDFW.
After the deer are trapped with a net gun, the helicopter would land so the crew members can take samples from the deer and put tracking collars on them.
KREM and the Associated Press contributed to this report.