Police: 2 dead in Emery County helicopter crash

MOAB, Utah — Two men searching for elk antlers by helicopter have died after their aircraft crashed in the Range Creek area of Emery County, authorities said.

The pilot, Robin Venuti, 38, from Washington, Utah, and Albert Rubio, 36, of Beaver, left Green River at about 11 a.m. Sunday, according to the Grand County Sheriff’s Office.

Helicopter crews combed three counties Sunday and Monday before finding the chopper, Grand County Sheriff Steven White told the Deseret News (http://bit.ly/Ott0y1 ).

Officials said the helicopter was reported missing about nine hours after the pair set out looking for elk antlers sheds. On Monday, search crews from the Department of Public Safety and the U.S. Department of Agriculture scoured Carbon, Emery and Grand counties, where White said narrow, steep cliffs make up the “treacherous” terrain.

Deer, elk and moose shed their antlers in winter before sprouting new pairs in spring. It’s legal to gather the antlers in Utah, where collectors must first take a course in how to do so without hurting game or wildlife habitats.

Other Western states have tried to cut back on the lucrative hobby, which officials say can bring in hundreds to thousands of dollars, depending on the find. The found materials often become chandeliers or furniture.

In neighboring Nevada, officials in March outlawed collecting felled antlers of deer and elk from early winter to spring.

Wildlife commissioners said the move would relieve stress on big game populations in winter, when they are most likely to succumb to harsh weather.


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