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2012 set new record for hunting safety in New York

SPRINGVILLE — According to New York State Department of Environmental Conservation Commissioner Joe Martens, the 2012 New York hunting season had the lowest number of hunting-related shooting incidents on record.

“Gov. [Andrew] 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. “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.”

The DEC’s environmental conservation officers conduct investigations into each hunting-related shooting incident. The 2012 season included 24 personal incidents, approximately half of which were self-inflicted. Two fatalities occurred, during the deer season, when individuals were shot by members of their hunting groups. “Incidents involving two or more individuals stress the importance of one of hunting’s basic tenets: identifying your target and what lies beyond,” said a press release from the DEC.

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

Though the number of hunters is declining in New York state, the hunting incident rate, the incidents per 100,000 hunters, is falling more quickly. Since the 1960s, the number of hunters has declined by approximately 20 percent, while the incident rate has gone down by more than 70 percent. The past five-year average is 5.3 incidents per 100,000 hunters, compared to 19 per 100,000, during the 1960s.

All first-time hunters and bow hunters must complete a hunter safety course and pass the final exam, before being eligible to purchase a hunting license. All courses are offered, free of charge.

The DEC has reminded hunters that “every hunting related shooting incident is preventable. Many, if not all of these incidents could have been prevented, if only the shooter and/or victim had followed the primary rules of hunter safety,” said a release from that organization.

The department of environmental conservation asked hunters to remember to:

– Treat every firearm as if it were loaded.

– Keep muzzles pointed away from people, pets and buildings.

– Identify targets and what lies beyond it.

– Keep fingers 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, at www.dec.ny.gov.
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