Chopper ‘Misses’ Milton-Freewater Target, Dumps Rodent Poison Pellets on Surrounding Farms
Last Thursday, residents of rural Milton Freewater began to flood social media with posts asking what the heck was going on. Now after an investigation by the Umatilla County Sheriff, we know.
A helicopter was seen in what's called the Triangle area, west of Milton Freewater, dropping some sort of pellets from a suspended container. However, either their aim was off or a container was not properly sealed, and dozens of surrounding properties were hit with either a few or a LOT of poisonous rodent pellets.
The helicopter, operated by Blue Mountain Helicopters, was conducting a rodent prevention run on a private parcel of land. However, Deputies say it's likely it's cargo bin malfunctioned causing some of the load to drop onto other people's land. One woman told the MyColumbiaBasin newspaper she actually felt pellets hitting her very lightly and bouncing off her trampoline in her yard. Other citizens began Friday to report chickens and some other farm animals getting sick or even dying, lasting throughout the weekend.
Another property owner said their neighbor down the road from them lost 7 chickens and 2 turkeys due to them gobbling up pellets, and this neighbor also said a lot of the pellets fell into a sizeable creek on their land that empties into the Touchet River. They fear the enough of the pellets in the creek could kill fish or other wildlife and eventually wind up in the Touchet.
The Umatilla County Sheriff has advised people in this area to contact the Oregon Department of Agriculture if they sustained any animal or other losses due to the errant drop of rat poison.
No word yet if any action will be taken by authorities against the helicopter company of the landowner.This was one of a number of pictures posted on the Taking Back Our Little Town of Milton Freewater Facebook page, showing the chopper in the sky.