Hunters Set New Safety Record in 2005

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The Pennsylvania Game Commission today announced that 2005 was the safest hunting year in the more than 90 years that records have been kept.  Last year, there were 47 hunting-related shooting incidents (HRSIs), including three fatalities.  In addition, the incident rate of 4.92 per 100,000 participants was the lowest on record.

In 2004, the year the previous records were set, there were 56 hunting-related shooting incidents, including four fatalities, and the incident rate was 5.56 per 100,000.

"While even one incident is one too many, we are pleased that hunters continue to improve on their safety record," said Carl G. Roe, Game Commission executive director.  "However, we must continue to strive to do better.

"One of the issues that most concerns us is that 25 percent of the incidents - or 12 out of 47 incidents - were self-inflicted.  This tells us that hunters must remember to practice the basic rules of firearms safety while afield."

Of the 47 incidents, there were 35 involving people who were shot by another hunter, including two fatalities.  The remaining 12 incidents were self-inflicted, including one fatality.

Roe noted that there has been a marked decline in these incidents that can be attributed to the success of hunter education training, which began as a voluntary course in 1959, and mandatory use of fluorescent orange clothing, which began in 1987.  Also, he added that hunters deserve credit for working with the agency to stress safety when afield.

A hunting-related shooting incident is defined as any occurrence in which a person is injured by a firearm or bow and arrow discharged by an individual hunting or trapping.  These incidents often result from failure to follow basic safety rules.

In 2005, the incident statistics by species hunted were: deer, 18 (including two fatalities, of which one was self-inflicted); small game, 12; wild turkey, 11; waterfowl, 2 (including one fatality); other, 2; bear, 1; and furbearer, 1.

People shot in the line-of-fire comprised 14 of the hunting-related shooting incidents, including two fatalities.  The second most common cause for shooting incidents was in-mistake- for-game (failure to properly identify target), which accounted for 11 incidents.  Sporting arm in a dangerous position accounted for six incidents, followed by: unintentional discharge, 5 (including one self-inflicted fatality); ricochet, 4; slipped and/or fell, 3; a defective sporting arm, 1; stray shot, 1; and other, 1.

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."

Created in 1895 as an independent state agency, the Game Commission is responsible for conserving and managing all wild birds and mammals in the Commonwealth, establishing hunting seasons and bag limits, enforcing hunting and trapping laws, and managing habitat on the 1.4 million acres of State Game Lands it has purchased over the years with hunting and furtaking license dollars to safeguard wildlife habitat.  The agency also conducts numerous wildlife conservation programs for schools, civic organizations and sportsmen's clubs. 

The Game Commission does not receive any general state taxpayer dollars for its annual operating budget.  The agency is funded by license sales revenues; the state's share of the federal Pittman-Robertson program, which is an excise tax collected through the sale of sporting arms and ammunition; and monies from the sale of oil, gas, coal, timber and minerals derived from State Game Lands.