The 2011 hunting season tied 2009 for New York State’s safest year of hunting on record based on the number of hunting-related shooting incidents, the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) announced Wednesday.
“New York has an extremely safety-conscious generation of hunters thanks largely to more than 60 years of dedicated efforts of 3,000 volunteer Sportsman Education Instructors,” said DEC Commissioner Joe Martens. “All first-time hunters are required to attend a comprehensive hunter safety course of a minimum of 10 hours taught by DEC’s highly-trained instructors. Their hard work is paying off.”
In the 2011 hunting seasons, 26 personal injury hunting-related shooting incidents were reported, including four fatalities. All of the fatalities occurred during the regular deer season, one of which was self-inflicted.
The hunter safety courses stress safe practices and ethics, along with information on New York’s game species and their management. All courses are offered free of charge, but students must successfully complete the course and pass the final exam before being eligible to purchase a hunting license.
The number of hunters in New York State is declining, but the hunting incident rate (incidents per 100,000 hunters) is falling at a much faster rate. Since the 1960s, the number of hunters has declined about 20 percent, while the incident rate has declined more than 70 percent. The past five-year average is 5.3 incidents per 100,000 hunters, compared to 19 per 100,000 in the 1960s.
While hunting is safer than ever, accidents do happen and it is important to remember that every hunting-related shooting incident is preventable. Many, if not all of these incidents could have been prevented, if only the shooter or victim had followed the primary rules of hunter safety:
- Treat every firearm as if it were loaded
- Keep your muzzle pointed in a safe direction
- Identify your target and what lies beyond
- Keep finger off the trigger until ready to fire
- Wear hunter orange
For more information, visit the Sportsman Education program section of the DEC website.