GENEVA, SWITZERLAND – Two men in their 60s who were accompanying a wildlife ranger who was carrying out an ibex herd control shooting were killed Wednesday morning by a rock fall in canton Valais.
The accident occurred near the Lac de Lovenex in the St Gingolph area, at the Col de la Pas de Croix, at about 1,800 metres altitude.
The ranger had shot an ibex and the men were leaving the area.
The ranger had gone ahead of the two others when he suddenly spotted a rockfall starting about 100 metres above them at the “Grande Miette”.
He shouted at them to run for cover and they managed to get clear of the central corridor of the rockfall, hit by several large boulders.
But several others headed off in their direction and although they lay down to protect themselves, they were killed outright by the falling rocks.
A geologist who flew over the area later Wednesday said that about 5-6 m3 of rock was involved.
Ibex hunting is very strictly controlled in Switzerland. Rangers and a small number of hunters are allowed to shoot sick or aging members of herds to keep the animals healthy. The species had died out and was re-introduced in Switzerland from the remnants of a herd in Italy 100 years ago and the national herd has slowly grown, but is carefully watched.
This is the second deadly accident linked to herd control expeditions in a month: a 13-year-old boy was recently killed when he fell from a rock ledge while with an official Ibex hunter.