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For Release: Monday, September 23, 2013

State Sportsman Education Courses are in Full Swing

On-line Registration New This Year

New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) Commissioner Joe Martens today reminded all new hunters or trappers planning to go afield this upcoming hunting and trapping season that they must first complete a mandatory hunter or trapper education course before they can obtain the appropriate sporting license. Training in safe handling of firearms and hunting is a legal requirement for anyone hunting in New York.

DEC works closely with thousands of dedicated volunteers statewide to provide these training courses free of charge. However, courses often fill up quickly, so those interested should sign up for a class as soon as possible to be sure they complete it before going afield. This year, DEC is unveiling a new on-line registration system for prospective students.

"This new on-line registration system will greatly improve the student experience as they register for education courses," said Commissioner Martens. "Viewing a list of all available sportsman education courses with the ability to search by date or the student's proximity to course locations can be easily done. Students will now have the ability to do their registration from any device - smartphone, tablet, or computer."

Reports on the number of hunting-related shooting incidents indicate that 2012 had the lowest number on record in New York. This is achieved through training and the regulations governing hunting activities in New York State. DEC's Sportsman Education Program is designed to teach and promote safe and effective hunting principles, practices and strategies. The program has been extremely successful over its 60 years of existence. This is shown as the number of hunting-related shooting incidents has declined from 137 per year in the 1960s to only 30 per year in the 2010s.

The number of hunters is declining, but the hunting incident rate (incidents per 100,000 hunters) is falling much faster. Since the 1960s, the number of hunters has declined about 20 percent, while the incident rate has declined over 70 percent. The current 5-year-average is 4.8 incidents per 100,000 hunters, compared to 19 per 100,000 hunters in the 1960s.

This new web-based system has been employed with great success in many other states. It will also allow sportsman education instructors to schedule courses, track student registration, offer email communications and provide DEC staff with course status and results.

To locate a nearby hunter or trapper education class, visit DEC's website or contact a local DEC regional office. For a list of regional offices and contact information, visit DEC's website. The website information will be updated regularly throughout the year. Remember to sign up early as courses fill quickly.

Commissioner Martens also reminded New York sportsmen and sportswomen who hunt out-of-state to be sure to satisfy all the hunter education requirements of the destination state well in advance. Some states require an original hunter education certificate, and getting a replacement can be time consuming if the original is misplaced. The New York State Sportsman Education Program has an extensive database from which replacement certificates can be issued if the course was taken in 1980 or after. Those unable to locate their original certificate, or cannot find a record of it, may be required to repeat a course. A previous hunting license cannot be used to reissue a certificate.

Governor Cuomo has made it a priority to support sportsmen and sportswomen through the NY Open for Fishing and Hunting Initiative. This initiative includes the streamlining of hunting and fishing licensing and reducing license fees, improved access for fishing at various sites across the state, and increasing hunting opportunities in various regions.

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