NEW YORK (WWTI) — Last year’s numbers confirmed that 2021 was the state’s safest hunting season in history for New York State. According to the Department of Environmental Conservation, the lowest number of hunting-related shooting accidents since the DEC’s Hunter Education Program was established in 1949 were recorded in 2021.

This was announced by DEC Commissioner Basil Seggos on February 22. He said he was proud that the state was able to accomplish record safety numbers.

“Hunting is an enjoyable and safe form of outdoor recreation with a long and storied history in New York State,” Commissioner Seggos said. “This past year was the safest-ever on record in New York, with the lowest number of hunting-related shooting incidents since DEC’s Hunter Education Program began in 1949. I’m proud of our Hunter Education Program, and our educators and volunteer instructors, working to ensure licensed hunters experience a safe hunting season. Every hunting fatality is preventable when New Yorkers hunt safely and responsibly.” 

Last year, Environmental Conservation Police Officers investigated nine hunting-related shooting incidents, including one fatality. Seven of the nine HRSIs that occurred in 2021 were two-party firearm incidents and two incidents were self-inflicted. 

All identified shooters were experienced hunters with an average of 40 years of hunting experience, emphasizing the need for all hunters to remain vigilant throughout the years while participating in the sport. According to the DEC, all of the incidents could have been prevented if those involved followed hunting safety rules.

In an effort to continue the trend, the DEC reminded residents that all first-time hunters, bowhunters, and trappers must successfully complete an education safety course before being able to purchase a hunting or trapping license or bowhunting privilege in the state. More information about courses can be found on the DEC website.

Additionally, ten Elevated Hunting Incidents were reported in 2021 and one was fatal. Only one of the 10 hunters involved in the incidents was wearing a safety harness, however, the harness was not connected to the tree when the fall occurred.

For this reason, the DEC is continuing to stress the importance of tree stand safety by incorporating it into DEC’s hunter education course. More information about 2021’s hunter safety statistics can be found here.