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Hunter Safety Statistics

Since DEC's Hunter Education Program was first introduced in New York State in 1949, the number of hunting-related incidents has declined significantly. The 2019 hunting season in New York had the fewest hunting-related shooting incidents (HRSIs) and safest hunting season on record.

Of the 12 HRSIs that occurred last year:

  • 7 two-party firearm incidents with 1 fatality
  • 5 self-inflicted with no fatalities

DEC believes the three fatalities could have been prevented if hunting safety rules were followed.

Thanks to the efforts of 2,600 DEC staff and volunteer hunter education program instructors that teach nearly 50,000 students each year, New York's hunting safety statistics continue to improve. 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 almost 80 percent. The current five-year average is 1.8 incidents per 100,000 hunters, compared to 19 per 100,000 hunters in the 1960s.

Hunter Safety Tips

While hunting is safer than ever, DEC encourages hunters to remember that every hunting-related shooting incident is preventable. Many, if not all of these incidents could have been prevented if the people involved had followed the primary rules of hunter safety:

  • 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.
  • Wear hunter orange.


Appreciation goes out to the DEC Environmental Conservation Officers who conduct professional investigations of each hunting-related shooting incident and hunting-related tree stand incident.

You can view and print the 2019 reports by clicking the links below.

2019 Hunting-Related Shooting Incidents (PDF)

2019 Tree Stand-Related Incidents (PDF)