The State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) has announced that the 2016 hunting season in New York had only 13 hunting-related shooting incidents, the lowest number on record since DEC began compiling hunting-related shooting statistics in 1958.
Of the 13 hunting-related shooting incidents in 2016, seven incidents were self-inflicted and six incidents involved more than one person. In 2015, there were 23 incidents. In 1966, there were 166 incidents, 13 of which were fatal.
Despite these low numbers, there were four fatalities in 2016 – two two-party incidents and two self-inflicted incidents. This year’s report indicated that eight of the people involved in multi-party incidents were not wearing hunter orange.
With approximately 500,000 licensed hunters spending an estimated 10 to 15 million days afield each year, New York continues its trend of declining hunting-related shooting incidents, with the incident rate (incidents per 100,000 hunters) declining almost 80 percent since the 1960s. The past five-year average is down to 3.5 incidents per 100,000 hunters, compared to 19 per 100,000 in the 1960s.
DEC encourages hunters to follow the primary rules of hunter safety:
- assume every firearm is loaded;
- control the firearm muzzle in a safe direction;
- keep your finger off the trigger until ready to fire;
- identify your target and what is beyond; and
- wear hunter orange.
DEC’s Sportsman Education Program, introduced in 1949, is mandatory for all hunters. Beginning in 2016, DEC instituted new course homework requirements for all hunter and trapper education courses. Students are now required to review course materials and complete homework prior to attending classroom and field sessions.
The new homework portion of the course provides an introduction to the subject and enhances students’ understanding of the course material. DEC offers all courses free of charge.
Only incidents involving firearms, bows, and crossbows are included in the annual report. Incidents involving falls from tree stands or hunter health-related issues are not included. Investigations of hunting-related shooting incidents are undertaken by DEC’s Environmental Conservation Officers (ECOs).
For more information on the 2016 Hunting Safety Statistics visit the Sportsman Education Program webpage.