ALBANY — The 2018 hunting seasons in New York tallied the lowest number of recorded hunting-related shooting incidents (HRSIs) and tied the 2016 mark, 13, as the safest on record, Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) Commissioner Basil Seggos announced.
DEC documented five tree stand incidents and zero fatalities in 2018, down from 12 tree stand incidents the previous year.
"The tradition of hunting is enjoyed by nearly 600,000 New Yorkers and visitors each year, and the declining number of hunting incidents prove that today's generation of hunters continue to be the most safety conscious," said Commissioner Seggos. "In large part, hunting in New York continues to be a safe and enjoyable activity thanks to the efforts of 2,600 DEC staff and volunteer hunter education program instructors that teach nearly 50,000 students each year."
Of the 13 HRSIs that occurred last year, seven were two-party firearm incidents, six were self-inflicted, and three resulted in fatalities that could have been prevented if hunting safety rules and common sense were followed. Of the three fatalities, two were self-inflicted and caused by unsafe handling of firearms and one was a two-party firearm incident caused by a failure to positively identify the target. Hunting Safety Statistics are available on the DEC website.
Further examination of the seven two-party firearm incidents reveals that six (86 percent) of the victims involved were not wearing hunter orange, reinforcing the importance of identifying the target and beyond, and wearing hunter orange when afield-two major tenets of DEC's hunter safety courses.
"Although the number of hunting-related incidents have declined dramatically in the last several decades, we believe every one of these could be avoided if hunters follow the laws and basic rules of hunting safety," Commissioner Seggos said. "We encourage hunters to wear hunter orange and to be sure, beyond a doubt, of their target and what lies beyond."
New York's HRSI rate recorded 19 incidents in 2017, 13 in 2016, and 23 in 2015. There were 98 incidents in 1991, 110 in 1979, and 166 in 1966, 13 of which were fatal. While the number of hunters is declining, 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 declined almost 80 percent. The current five-year average is 3.1 incidents per 100,000 hunters, compared to 19 per 100,000 hunters in the 1960s.
While hunting is safer than ever, DEC encourages hunters to remember that every hunting-related shooting incident is preventable.