The DEC says that while hunting is still a relatively safe sport, the agency recorded almost twice as many hunting-related incidents over the previous year.

Statistics just released by the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation reveal that there were 22 hunting-related incidents in 2020, including three fatalities. This number is up from 2019, which saw a record-low 12 hunting-related incidents and just one death.

The increase in incidents and fatalities comes during a year when hunting saw an uptick in popularity due to the pandemic.

Last year, more than 600,000 New Yorkers and visitors enjoyed the abundant hunting opportunities available in New York as people headed afield in search of outdoor activities during the COVID-19 pandemic.

According to the DEC, nine of the 22 incidents were "two-party firearm incidents" and 13 were self-inflicted. All three fatalities were self-inflicted and involved experienced hunters. The DEC claims that every one of the recorded incidents could have been prevented if hunting safety rules had been followed. All of the two-party incidents involved hunters that were not wearing mandatory orange or pink safety clothing.

Because of the pandemic, in-person hunting, trapping and bowhunting safety classes were canceled and substituted with virtual instruction. The DEC says that these online courses were successful. In fact, none of the 22 incidents in 2020 involved a hunter that had taken the course.

Modern hunting is much safer than it has been in previous decades. The DEC says the current five-year average only shows two incidents per 100,000 hunters. In comparison, there was an average of 19 incidents per 100,000 hunters in the 1960s.

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