2012 New York State hunting season safest on record, with 24 incidents, 2 fatalities
Monday, February 11, 2013 - 2:05 pm

Although the 2012 hunting season was the safest on record, 24 incidents, including two fatalities, were reported to the Department of Environmental Conservation.

The 2012 hunting season had the lowest number of hunting-related shooting incidents on record, according to Joe Martens, commissioner of the DEC.

No hunting-related shooting incidents were reported during the first youth hunt for deer, which took place Columbus Day weekend.

The 2012 season included 24 “personal incidents,” just over half of which were self-inflicted. Two of the incidents included fatalities. Both fatalities occurred during the deer season, and both individuals were shot by members of their hunting group.

The incidents highlight the importance of identifying your target and what lies beyond that target.

DEC officers conduct investigations of each hunting-related shooting incident.

Though the number of hunters is declining in the state, the hunting incident rate (incidents per 100,000 hunters) is falling even faster. Since the 1960s, the number of hunters has declined about 20 percent, while the incident rate has plunged 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.

“Governor 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,” said Martens. “The Governor and DEC are working to expand hunting opportunities in New York state and hunter safety is part and parcel to these efforts. These declining statistics prove that New York does have a safety-conscious generation of hunters, in great thanks to the committed efforts of more than 2,500 volunteer Sportsman Education Instructors.”

Trained instructors certified by the DEC teach safe, responsible and ethical outdoors practices and the important role of hunters and trappers in conservation. All first-time hunters and bowhunters must successfully complete a hunter safety course and pass the final exam before being eligible to purchase a hunting license.

While hunting is safer than ever, accidents do happen. Accidents can be prevented by following 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, including the 2012 hunting safety statistics, visit the Sportsman Education Program section on the DEC website www.dec.ny.gov.