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WASHINGTON DEPARTMENT OF FISH AND WILDLIFE     Print Version
NEWS RELEASE
600 Capitol Way North, Olympia, WA 98501-1091


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February 19, 2008
Contact: Penny Warren, (360) 902-2280
or Steve Pozzanghera, (360) 902-2506

WDFW to document aircraft-safety training

OLYMPIA—The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) will formally document its employee safety training and procedures for aircraft-related work activities, as a result of a recently concluded state investigation.

The investigation by the state Department of Labor and Industries (L&I) stemmed from a fatal accident last September when WDFW Wildlife Biologist Rocky Spencer was struck by a helicopter rotor during a bighorn sheep capture near Yakima. Such investigations are required under state law following work-related fatalities and serious accidents.

Although WDFW has aircraft-safety standard-operating procedures and provides safety training to employees who work around aircraft, the L& I investigation called on WDFW to put its safety-training program in writing and to include aircraft-safety procedures in a written accident-prevention program. The two-part citation was issued today.

“We will be working closely with Labor and Industries to make the recommended improvements, just as we have cooperated closely throughout the investigation,” said WDFW Director Jeff Koenings.

The Department took the precautionary step of suspending aircraft wildlife-capture operations until the investigation was concluded, Koenings said.

“Rocky was a highly skilled wildlife biologist who had years of training and experience working around aircraft,” said Koenings. “We’re committed to doing everything we can to prevent a similar tragedy in the future.”