Helicopter drops rodent poison, killing chickens and turkeys in Milton-Freewater

Homeowners in a Milton-Freewater neighborhood are demanding answers after they say a helicopter accidentally dropped hundreds of rodent poison pellets in their yards.

Laura Pumphrey said she heard a helicopter flying low around her house on Triangle Station Rd. on Thursday afternoon and decided to go outside to investigate. Right after the helicopter flew directly over her house, Pumphrey said she felt something fall on her. She looked around and saw hundreds of pellets all over.

Pumphrey found the pellets on her roof, deck, and trampoline. She called the Umatilla Co. Sheriff’s Office to find out more information about what happened.

Lt. Sterrin Holcomb said The sheriff’s office looked into the matter and found Blue Mountain Helicopter was hired to drop mouse bait pellets on a local company’s land. Lt. Holcomb said Blue Mountain Helicopter told deputies that an equipment malfunction may have caused the pellets to land in areas they weren’t supposed to.

Since last week, Pumphrey said one of her chickens has died. Another neighbor said he’s had seven chickens and two turkeys die. The sheriff’s office advised Pumphrey and anyone else who’s been affected to file a report with the Oregon Dept. of Agriculture.

The agriculture department’s director of communications, Andrea Cantu-Schomus, said there have been three reports made so far by homeowners in Milton-Freewater. Two reported they’ve had chickens die, although Cantu-Schomus said the exact number was not known. The third was calling with concerns about their dogs, although they are not showing any signs of poisoning.

Cantu-Schomus said Mt. Fuji and the Rocks, the apple orchard company, hired the helicopter to drop rodent poison pellets on their land, a common practice in the agriculture industry. The department is still determining exactly how the pellets ended up in areas it shouldn’t have been, and have requested flight path records to determine who all potentially may have been affected.

Pumphrey said she wanted to bring this to light to encourage other people to come forward.

“I just want someone, whoever is responsible for this, to step up and say that it was them and they’re sorry and what can they do to help people who have had losses,” Pumphrey said.

We did reach out to Blue Mountain Helicopter for comment and they refused to provide a statement.

The Oregon Dept. of Agriculture is asking anyone who may have been affected by the rodent poison pellets to report it by calling 211 or 503-986-4635.