A four-member state wildfire chopper crew is being recognized for their part in a mission to rescue a woman who’d clambered up a tree after feeling threatened by wolves yesterday in Northcentral Washington.
After taking off from Omak following a request for assistance from the Tonasket Ranger District of the Okanogan-Wenatchee National Forest, the helicopter, piloted by Department of Natural Resources pilot Devin Gooch, was able to get to the remote location in the Twentymile Meadows area in 14 minutes.
According to The Seattle Times, the woman — initially described as a research student surveying the area but termed by DNR as affiliated with the Forest Service — had encountered one wolf there and attempted to use pepper spray on it, but with the arrival of a second wolf, she took to a tree and called for help.
Though DNR choppers aren’t typically used for rescues, getting to the location some 26 miles north of Winthrop on foot would have taken two hours, according to Okanogan County Sheriff Frank Rogers.
DNR Commissioner Hilary Franz said she was proud of the crew, calling them “tremendous assets to our communities,” and said that Gooch “truly exemplifies what it means to serve our public.”
It’s not yet clear what triggered the event, whether there was a den, rendezvous site or kill nearby, or what the woman was surveying, but local Forest Service officials are expected to provide more details on the latter shortly.