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Feb 14, 4:33 PM EST

After elk crash, activists question wildlife helicopter use

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) -- The case of an elk that died after a collision with a low-flying research helicopter is highlighting the use of helicopters in wildlife monitoring, which has been criticized by animal-rights groups.

Jennifer Best with Friends of Animals said Wednesday that helicopters can terrify animals and called on wildlife managers to use less invasive methods.

The crew was trying to capture the elk with a net to fit it with a tracking collar before the Monday crash. Wildlife officials say it was a fluke accident. The two people on board weren't seriously hurt.

Mark Hadley with the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources says helicopters and tracking collars are the best way to gather detailed information that keeps herds healthy. He says they capture more than 1,000 animals a year and the vast majority are unaffected.

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