Medical helicopter pilot fined for flying too low over elk herd

GRAND JUNCTION, Colo. - A medical helicopter pilot has been cited and fined for flying too low over a herd of elk in Colorado.

Colorado Parks and Wildlife said it cited Owen Park, of Page, Ariz., , for harassing wildlife after a group of hunters observed him flying his helicopter very low over an elk herd in a canyon near the headwaters of Granite Creek, southwest of Grand Junction.

According to the witnesses, Park flew erratically, making several passes below the rim of the canyon and at treetop level, causing several groups of elk to scatter in multiple directions. At times, it appeared Park was herding the elk, the witnesses said.

"The people that saw this told me that the pilot ruined their hunt," said Ty Smith, District Wildlife Officer in Grand Junction.

Park said he did not feel his actions harassed the elk, but did admit that he was trying to get a better look at the herds, according to CPW.

Park is a pilot for Classic Lifeguard Air Medical in Page. He and his crew took a patient to a hospital in Grand Junction on Sept. 23. It was on their return trip that they were spotted flying above the elk herd, according to CPW.

Park was fined $200 and was assessed 10 penalty points against his hunting and fishing privileges.

CPW said Park has already paid the fine.

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