ALBANY, N.Y. (NEWS10) — The Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) announced on Monday that the 2022 hunting season tied the 2021 season for the safest-ever year with the lowest number of hunting-related shooting incidents since record-keeping began. DEC Environmental Police Officers (ECOs) looked into nine hunting-related shooting incidents (HRSIs), including one fatality, this last season.

Four of the nine HRSIs investigated in 2022 involved two-party firearm incidents, while the other five were self-inflicted. All involved were identified as experienced hunters with an average of 30 years of experience, emphasizing the need for all hunters to stay vigilant regardless of experience. The DEC encourages hunters to treat every firearm as if it were loaded, control the muzzle, identify their target and what lies beyond, wear hunter orange and pink, and keep their finger off the trigger until they’re ready to fire.

The DEC also tracks and investigates elevated hunting incidents (EHIs), which according to the DEC, are underreported. In 2022, 13 EHIs were reported, four of which were fatal, and only two of the 13 were wearing safety harnesses. The DEC reminds hunters of the “ABCs” of tree stand safety, which are to always inspect the tree stand before every use, buckle the full body harness securely every time, and connect to the tree before your feet leave the ground.

“It’s clear from these findings that the vast majority of New York hunters follow the State’s stringent safety guidelines and do their part to ensure a safe and enjoyable season,” DEC Commissioner Basil Seggos said. “This record year for safety is a testament to the DEC expert staff, volunteers, and local hunting clubs that work collaboratively to teach safety to hunters of all ages. I commend their efforts and for all hunters who safely and responsibly contributed to our conservation efforts this season.”