The three dead were identified as biologist Dewey Stockbridge, wildlife technician Brandon White and veterinarian Bob Dittmar, according to a press release Sunday from the Texas Department of Parks and Wildlife. .
Carter Smith, chief executive of TPWD, said in the statement: “Words cannot fully describe the sadness we feel at the loss of our colleagues in this catastrophic accident.
He said: “These men are excellent professionals, loved and appreciated by colleagues and partners for the great passion, dedication and expertise they bring to the public. their importance in wildlife and veterinary management.
The helicopter pilot, a private contractor, survived the crash and was taken to hospital in El Paso, according to the statement. TPWD did not give any information about the cause of the crash.
The group is flying past TPWD’s Black Gap Wildlife Management Area in Brewster County to conduct research on the desert longhorn sheep. The area borders Big Bend National Park and spans more than 100,000 acres, according to TPWD.
According to TPWD, Texas wildlife officials have contributed to restoring the number of desert bighorn sheep after the population declined due to disease and uncontrolled hunting, according to TPWD. bighorn’s number in Texas was 1,500 in 2018.
Stockbridge has been working on conservation of this species for several years. In 2016, in an interview with The Outside Journal, he talked about the importance of herd management.
“When you reintroduce desert bighorn in a landscape such as Elephant Mountain, it’s really a drip effect,” he said. “There are many other species that benefit from their return to certain mountain ranges.”
Officials carry out aerial surveys throughout the year to track population size and observe animal behavior.
Dittmar joined TPWD as the agency’s first staff veterinarian in 2014, according to the agency. Previously, he supported on various projects with the company and is practicing privately in Kerrville, northwest of San Antonio.
“My wife tells everyone that I will make sure my grandchildren and grandchildren have wildlife to enjoy in the future,” Dittmar said in an interview with TPWD in 2014. ” I will be part of helping ensure that our wildlife populations are healthy and seeing it from a veterinary medical point of view rather than a rigorous biological and regulatory point of view. “
Texas Department of Public Safety, Federal Aviation Administration and Texas Game Wardens are investigating the crash.
Texas Governor Greg Abbott said: “Our hearts today are heartbroken for those who died in this tragic accident.