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October 01, 2020

Texas wildlife veterinarian dies in helicopter crash

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Dr. Dittmar II
Dr. Robert O. Dittmar II (Courtesy of the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department)

Dr. Robert O. Dittmar II, the first state wildlife veterinarian for the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, was among three TPWD members killed in a helicopter crash Aug. 8 while conducting an aerial survey of desert bighorn sheep in West Texas. He was 64.

“Wildlife conservation in Texas lost three of its finest as they so honorably and dutifully carried out their calling to help survey, monitor, and protect the bighorns of their beloved west Texas mountains,” said Carter Smith, TPWD executive director, in a statement.

The helicopter reportedly crashed in a remote canyon of Black Gap Wildlife Management Area near the Mexican border. Also killed were wildlife biologist Dewey Stockbridge and fish and wildlife technician Brandon White. The helicopter pilot survived the crash, which is being investigated by the Federal Aviation Administration along with the Texas Department of Public Safety and the Texas Game Wardens.

Dr. Dittmar was born Oct. 18, 1955, in Fredericksburg, Texas, as a fifth-generation Texas rancher. He chose a career in veterinary medicine and graduated in 1979 from Texas A&M University College of Veterinary & Biomedical Sciences.

In 1982, Dr. Dittmar bought the Kerrville Veterinary Clinic in Kerrville, Texas. He sold the practice after almost 10 years but continued working at the clinic.

Dr. Dittmar accepted a position with the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department in 2014 as the department’s first state wildlife veterinarian. In that capacity, he worked with landowners, hunters, and biologists in the preservation of native wildlife. Dr. Dittmar was passionate about relocation efforts for bighorn sheep and pronghorns in Texas, as well as helping TPWD diagnose and respond to complex animal heath and disease issues.

Additionally, Dr. Dittmar was once a director of the Texas Wildlife Association, and he volunteered with Texas Parks and Wildlife Department on the White-tailed Deer Advisory Committee, Wildlife Health Working Group, Chronic Wasting Disease Task Force, institutional animal care and use committee for the Kerr Wildlife Management Area, animal translocation projects, and the Texas Animal Health Commission.

Dr. Dittmar is survived by wife Bernadine, son Robert “Trey” Otto Dittmar III, daughter Whitney Hild, sister Karen Haschke, brother Jerry Dittmar, and grandchildren Hayden and Paige Dittmar and Kimber and Levi Hild.

In lieu of flowers, the family requests memorials be given to the Hill Country District Junior Livestock Show Association, P.O. Box 291217, Kerrville, TX 78029-1217; the scholarship fund of the Kerr County Farm Bureau, 1813 Junction Highway, Kerrville, TX 78028; the Harper Volunteer Fire Department, 84 N. Ranch Road 783, Harper, TX 78631; the Doss Volunteer Fire Department, P.O. Box 31, Doss, TX 78618; or any wildlife or conservation group.

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