Two Idaho Fish and Game biologists and pilot die in helicopter crash
Two Idaho Fish and Game biologists and a pilot were killed when the helicopter they were aboard crashed early Tuesday morning. This is the first fatal aircraft accident involving an Idaho Fish and Game biologist in almost a decade.
Those killed were Larry Barrett, 47, of Lewiston, Idaho, who had worked for Fish and Game since 1985, and Dani Schiff, 34, also of Lewiston, who had worked for the department since 1997. The name of the pilot has not been released. The helicopter was chartered from Clarkston, Wash.-based Leading Edge Aviation, a company that contracts services to Idaho Fish and Game.
"Our hearts and prayers go out to the families and to all employees as we go through this difficult time," Fish and Game Director Cal Groen said in a statement.
The crash occurred behind the U.S. Forest Service building in Kamiah, in the northern Idaho Clearwater Region. The biologists were counting salmon spawning nests on the nearby Selway River, the primary index on the status of naturally spawning salmon.
Fish and Game biologists have counted spawning nests using fixed-wing aircraft and helicopters annually since the 1950s, with aerial counts the only to way to tally many of Idaho's remote and wilderness streams.
"This is a sad day for Fish and Game and our families," said Fish and Game Deputy Director Jim Unsworth.
The last fatal Fish and Game aircraft accident in Idaho was December 2000, when a wildlife biologist was killed when the helicopter he was in went down while on a wildlife count in northern Idaho.
Earlier this year, a helicopter carrying a pilot and two Idaho Fish and Game biologists crashed on the North Fork of the Clearwater River in northeastern Idaho. None of the three people on board sustained life-threatening injuries.
-- Kelly Burgess
Photo: Idaho Fish and Game biologists Dani Schiff (inset) and Larry Barrett were killed when the helicopter they were in crashed Tuesday. Credit: Idaho Fish and Game