Hunting Accident File > Safe Hunting > 2008

NY: 4 deaths so far this season in NY hunting accidents

4 deaths so far this season in NY hunting accidents
By Stephen Sacco
Times Herald-Record
December 05, 2008 6:00 AM

Hunting accidents have declined in the past five years in New York, but last year saw a spike in fatal incidents, according to the state Department of Environmental Conservation.

All the data isn't in for this year, but there have been four deaths from hunting accidents reported so far, including Charly Ann Skala, the 16-month-old toddler who was hit by a stray bullet Nov. 16 in Sullivan County. Police have charged a Queens man with second-degree manslaughter in Charly's death.

In 2007, there were 37 incidents; six of them fatal, including one self-inflicted fatality. In 2006 there was only one fatal accident.

Fewer people are hunting but that doesn't account for the drop in the accident rate, according to the DEC.

In the 1960s, the rate of accidents was 19 per 100,000 hunters. Since 2000, the rate has dropped to 6.5 incidents per 100,000 hunters.

From 1996 to 2002 the average number of accidents reported was 56 but from 2003-07 the average dropped to 33.

New York has required hunters to take a safety class since 1949. Many credit a stronger emphasis on safety education with the decline in accidents.

Dave Dean, a hunter in Deerpark who has taught safety courses, says safety is paramount. His advice to inexperienced hunters is to find a mentor.

The most common contributing factor for the majority of hunting accidents is "careless handling," said DEC police Lt. Deming Lindsley, who works in Sullivan County and parts of Ulster County.

"The trend is still a decrease (in accidents) but it's not steady; there are spikes," he said.

Some have suggested banning the use of high-powered rifles in Sullivan but Lindsley hasn't seen a correlation between the number of accidents and the type of weapon.

The first fatality of the year in New York state involved a shotgun in Genesee County, he said.  

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