Hunters Set New Safety Record in 2003

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The Pennsylvania Game Commission today announced that the 2003 was the safest hunting year in the 90 years records have been kept. Last year, there were 57 hunting-related shooting incidents, including four fatalities. In addition, the incident rate of 5.63 per 100,000 participants was the lowest on record.

"While even one incident is one too many, we are pleased that hunters continue to improve on their safety record," said Vern Ross, Game Commission executive director. "The marked decline of these incidents can be attributed to the success of hunter education training and mandatory use of fluorescent orange clothing. However, we must continue to strive to do better."

A hunting-related shooting incident is defined as any occurrence in which a person is injured as the result of a discharge of a firearm or bow and arrow during actual hunting or trapping activities. These incidents often result from failure to follow basic safety rules.

In 2003, the incident statistics by species hunted were: deer, 25 (including three fatalities); small game, 17; wild turkey, 11; furbearer, 2; bear, 1; and waterfowl, 1, which was a fatal incident.

People shot in the line-of-fire comprised 19 of the hunting-related shooting incidents, including two fatalities. The second most common cause for shooting incidents was because the sporting arm was in a dangerous position, which accounted for 11 incidents, including two fatalities. In-mistake-for-game incidents accounted for 8 incidents, followed by: unintentional discharge, 6; ricochet, 3; stray shot, 2; dropped sporting arm, 2; slipped and/or fell, 1; and other, 5.

Of the 57 incidents, there were 44 incidents inflicted by another hunter, including three fatalities. The remaining 13 incidents were self-inflicted, including one fatal self-inflicted injury.

The Game Commission has posted information about hunting-related shooting incidents dating back to 1991 on its website at (select "Education," then scroll down and click on "Hunting-Related Shooting Incident Statistics").