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DEC: Zero hunting fatalities in 2015 season

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Wed, Mar 30th 2016 03:00 pm

2015 is the first year in decades without a reported fatality, marks growing trend of improved hunter safety

Editorial by the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation

The 2015 New York hunting season proved to be one of the safest on record and yielded the first year without a hunting-related shooting fatality since the 1950s, New York State Department of Environmental Conservation Acting Commissioner Basil Seggos announced. DEC's 2015 hunting safety statistics report highlighted a total of only 23 hunting incidents, the third-lowest number on record, with 10 incidents self-inflicted and 13 two-party incidents.

"Hunting is a strong and economically important tradition that continues to be safely enjoyed by many in New York state, and I commend hunters of all ages for maintaining high standards in hunting safety," Seggos said. "The trend of declining hunting accidents is proof that our hunter safety education programs are working thanks, in large part, to the efforts of the 3,000 volunteer sportsman education instructors that teach our hunter safety courses every year."

This is the first year without a hunting-related shooting fatality in New York since record-keeping on hunting statistics began in the mid 1950s. 2015 also continued the trend of declining incidents with New York's hunting-related shooting incident rate (incidents per 100,000 hunters) declining almost 80 percent since the 1960s. The past five-year average is down to four incidents per 100,000 hunters, compared to 19 per 100,000 hunters in the 1960s.

While hunting is safer than ever, accidents can still happen. It is important to remember every hunting-related shooting incident is preventable. As this year's report indicated, eight of the victims in the multiparty incidents were not wearing hunter orange. Accidents can be prevented if hunters 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.

"Sportsman education is an essential and required training course for hunters and teaches future sportsmen and women how to be safe, responsible, and ethical hunters and trappers," Seggos said. "Through our NY 'Open for Fishing and Hunting' initiative, sportsman education programs are being enhanced and our hunting license privileges have been updated to ensure increased opportunities for recreational hunting in the state."

The decline in hunting-related accidents is evidence New York has a safety-conscious generation of hunters, thanks to the committed efforts of DEC's volunteer instructors. These trained, DEC-certified instructors teach safe, responsible and ethical outdoor practices and the important roles hunters and trappers serve in natural resource conservation. All courses are offered free of charge and class registration is easy. In 2016, DEC is updating the course curriculum to further enhance the program and implement recommendations identified in a 2015 peer-reviewed analysis if New York's education program.

For more information on sportsman education course registration, access to the course manuals and worksheets, visit the sportsman education program on DEC's website http://www.dec.ny.gov/outdoor/7860.html.

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