Dept. Environmental Conservation:
Statistics: Few firearms-related hunting accidents in GLOW region during 2020
Two firearms-related hunting accidents in Genesee County were among the 22 statewide last year, according to the state Department of Environmental Conservation. The accidents were detailed in DEC data released earlier this month.
The first occurred Oct. 25, according to the DEC. A 27-year-old hunter discharged one round and a pellet struck his father in the face. They were waterfowl hunting at the time.
The second accident occurred Nov. 28, the DEC said. A 15-year-old with no previous hunting experience — and no license — took a shot at a squirrel with an air rifle. The pellet ricocheted off a rock and hit his leg.
No firearms-related hunting accidents were reported in Orleans, Wyoming or Livingston counties. Two accidents were reported in Steuben County, along with one each in Allegany and Niagara counties.
Of the 22 accidents statewide, three were fatal and self-inflicted. Two occurred in Onondaga County and one in Saratoga County. Two of the fatal accidents involved accidental discharges from muzzleloaders and one involved a crossbow, which the state included in its statistics. Although elevated compared to previous years, the number of such accidents remains low statewide, according to DEC officials. A total of 12 such incidents was reported in 2019 and 13 in 2018.
Of the 2020 incidents, a total of 13 were self-inflicted and nine involved two people. Of the latter, two of the victims were wearing hunter orange when shot, and seven were not. “Wearing hunter orange while afield and ensuring it is visible decreases your risk of being injured while hunting,” DEC officials said in a news release.
License sales in 2020 revealed the first big increase in hunting participation in recent years, according to the DEC. Hunting license sales increased 11 percent from 2019 to 2020. Bowhunting privileges increased 14 percent, while muzzleloader privileges increased 11 percent. Junior hunting licenses increased 26 percent.
Since the 1960s, the number of hunters has declined about 20 percent, while the incident rate has declined almost 80 percent, DEC officials said. The current five-year average is two incidents per 100,000 hunters, compared to 19 incidents per 100,000 hunters in the 1960s. The DEC’s hunter education curriculum and the dedication of thousands of volunteer instructors over more than 60 years has made New York hunting safer than ever, the officials said.