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Helicopter Crash Kills Idaho Fish and Game Biologists and Pilot

September 2, 2010.

A helicopter carrying two Idaho Fish and Game fisheries biologists and a pilot crashed in Kamiah between 9:30 and 9:45 Tuesday morning, leaving three dead.

"I am heart broken to report that this morning we had a helicopter accident near Kamiah," Fish and Game Director Cal Groen said. "Two employees and the pilot were on board. All three were killed. Our hearts and prayers go out to the families and to all employees as we go through this difficult time."

Two were pronounced dead at the scene, the third was taken to a hospital but was later pronounced dead. Dead are Larry Barrett, 47 of Lewiston, who worked for Fish and Game since 1985, and Dani Schiff, 34 of Lewiston, who worked for Fish and Game since 1997.

"This is a sad day for Fish and Game and our families," Deputy Director Jim Unsworth said.

The crash occurred behind the U.S. Forest Service building in Kamiah. The biologists were counting salmon redds - spawning nests - on the nearby Selway River. Fish and Game biologists have counted redds annually since the 1950s using fixed wing and helicopters.

The counts are the primary index of the status of naturally spawning salmon. Aerial counts are the only to way to count many of Idaho's remote and wilderness streams.

The helicopter belongs to Leading Edge Aviation of Clarkston, Wash., a company that contracts services to Idaho Fish and Game.

Fish and Game biologists fly about 1,000 hours annually in aerial surveys, wildlife counts and capturing wildlife for research. Fish and Game takes safety seriously; all personnel are required to take safety training before flying and adhere to strict safety procedures.

In an unusual side note, Kamiah is the home of Robert Millage, who was the first hunter to take a wolf on the opening morning of Idaho's historic 2009 wolf season. Millage provided photos of the crash to local news agencies. Millage's photos can be seen at http://www.klewtv.com/news/local/101904208.html.

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