Officials say the past hunting season was the safest ever in New York. Here's why.

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On Tuesday, New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) Commissioner Basil Seggos announced the 2019 hunting seasons in New York were the safest on record. DEC documented seven tree stand incidents and one fatality in 2019.

"Nearly 550,000 New Yorkers and visitors enjoy the sport of hunting each year and the declining number of hunting incidents confirms that today's generation of hunters are the most safety conscious yet," Seggos said. "Thanks to the efforts of DEC staff and volunteer hunter education program instructors that teach close to 40,000 students each year, hunting has continued to be a safe and enjoyable activity in New York State."

Of the 12 hunting related shooting incidents that occurred last year, seven were two-party firearm incidents, five were self-inflicted and one resulted in a fatality, officials say.

All of the incidents could have been prevented if hunting safety rules had been followed, according to the DEC. The fatal incident was caused by a failure to positively identify the target.

The DEC reports, further examination of the seven two-party firearm incidents reveals that four of the victims involved were not wearing hunter orange.

New York State has recorded HRSI rates since the 1960s. In 1966, 166 incidents were recorded, 13 of which were fatal. In 2019, 12 incidents were recorded, one of which was fatal. While the number of hunters is declining overall, the hunting incident rate, incidents per 100,000 hunters, is falling even faster. Since the 1960s, the number of hunters in New York has declined by about 20 percent, while the incident rate has declined by almost 80 percent.

The DEC issued the following guidelines for safe hunting:

  • Treat every firearm as if it were loaded;
  • Control the muzzle, keep it pointed in a safe direction;
  • Identify your target and what lies beyond;
  • Keep your finger off the trigger until ready to fire; and
  • Wear hunter orange or pink.

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