DEC says 2013 was a safe hunting season

The state Department of Environmental Conservation announced last week that 2013 New York hunting season had the lowest number of hunting related shooting incidents on record.

DEC Commissioner Joe Martens said New York’s hunting incident rate (incidents per 100,000 hunters) has fallen by more than 70 percent since the 1960s. The past five-year average is down to 4.3 incidents per 100,000 hunters, compared to 19 per 100,000 in the 1960s.

The total incidents for 2013 was 19, down from 24 in 2002. Two of the 2013 hunting accidents were fatalities. Fourteen were self inflicted.

“Gov. Cuomo recognizes all the benefits the sporting community brings to New York’s economy and commends sportsmen and women for setting a record in hunting safety,” Martens said.

“Sportsman education is an essential background to have in the field and teaches future sportsmen and sportswomen how to be safe, responsible and ethical hunters and trappers,” he said.

Accident investigations are completed by trained DEC officers. The findings are used to improve New York’s Hunter Education Course to ensure that the most common causes of accidents are addressed and emphasized during instruction.

These declining statistics prove New York has a safety-conscious generation of hunters, in great thanks to the committed efforts of more than 2,500 volunteer Sportsman Education Instructors.

These trained instructors, who are DEC-certified, teach safe, responsible and ethical outdoor practices and the important role of hunters and trappers in conservation. All courses are free.

While hunting is safer than ever, accidents 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 to:

** 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; and

** wear hunter orange.

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