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State DEC reports decline in hunting accidents

CHARITY ROBEY PHOTO Animal Control Officer Beau Payne on the hunt recently, getting into position an hour before sundown, a time when deer are most active.
CHARITY ROBEY PHOTO Animal Control Officer Beau Payne on the hunt recently from a tree stand.

The 2017 hunting season has been declared among the safest on record by the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation.

During the recreational hunting season that runs from October 1 through to the end of the following January, there were 19 hunting-related shooting incidents, including one fatality that the DEC said could have been avoided had there been more attention paid to hunting laws and common sense.

With more than 500,000 New Yorkers engaged in the recreational hunt, the declining number of incidents “show that today’s generation of hunters may be the most safety conscious,”Commissioner Basil Seggos said.

“Thanks to the efforts of 2,600 DEC staff and volunteer hunter education program instructors that teach nearly 50,000 students each year, New York’s hunting safety statistics continue to improve,” he added.

Of the 19 hunting-related incidents, 14 were two-party firearm incidents; five were self-inflicted; and the last was that fatality. In 11 of the 19 incidents, there were violations of hunting laws or regulations, according to the DEC statistics. There were 11 victims of hunting accidents who failed to wear hunter-orange garb that may have avoided an accident.

The state’s hunting accident statistics have jumped around. In 2016 they totalled 13; in 2013, they were at 19; in 1991, 110 in 1979; and 166 in 1966, with 13 fatal.
Nonetheless, the incident rate pre 100,000 hunters has continued to decline, down 70 percent from the 1960s.

The current five-year average is 3.42 percent per 100,000 hunters compared with 19 per 100,000 hunters in the 1960s.

Hunting accidents related to the use of tree stands were calculated this year for the first time with a tally of 12, six of which were fatal.

Tree stand incidents are becoming a major cause of hunting-related injuries across the country, Mr. Seggos said. Of those, 75 percent of the hunters failed to wear any kind of full-body harness to secure them in their stands.

Other measures involve checking the stand for wear every year and replacing any worn parts; using a haul line to raise and lower unloaded firearms, bows or crossbows; and ensuring others know where you will be hunting.