June 15, 2007
June 15, 2007 - Federal officials are investigating the cause of a June 1 crash in southcentral Utah of a single-engine plane carrying two federal Wildlife Services employees who were doing aerial control operations for coyotes. Joseph Harris and Glen Stevenson lost their lives in the crash.
Wildlife Services spokeswoman Carol Bannerman said that aerial predator control has been halted in Arizona, California, Colorado, Oklahoma, Washington and Utah until the crash is investigated. She said aerial gunning was due to stop this week in those states anyway because the livestock birthing seasons are finished. Only helicopters are being used in other states.
"Our goal is always toward zero accidents," Bannerman said. "We want to review operations for the protection of our employees within the inherent risks."
Pilot Harris and passenger Stevenson were looking for coyotes that were attacking lambs when their plane crashed on a high plateau in Wayne County, Utah.
Helicopter operations were resumed this week, and the decision on fixed-wing aircraft is expected shortly. The American Sheep Industry Association has worked closely with the agency and Congress on the aerial safety program funding.
It has been 10 years since a fatality in the aerial program.