RATON — The U.S. Department of Agriculture says a pilot with the Wildlife Services program and a state wildlife specialist died when their plane crashed in northeastern New Mexico.
The agency says pilot Kelly Hobbs and Shannon “Bubba” Tunnell of the New Mexico Department of Agriculture were the only two aboard the single-engine plane when it went down early Friday near Raton.
Officials confirmed Monday that Hobbs and Tunnell were on a mission to curb damage caused by wildlife in Colfax County.
The National Transportation Safety Board is investigating.
Hobbs had been a pilot with the federal program since 1992. He had more than 13,500 hours of flight experience and had worked in New Mexico, Colorado and Utah.
Tunnell had been a specialist with the state since 2009 and had extensive training in aerial predator management.