States like Michigan and Minnesota are experiencing the safest hunting seasons in years. In fact, hunting accidents have gone down across the board in the United States. State agencies attribute this to the efforts of hunter safety programs and an increased awareness for gun safety.
The National Shooting Sports Foundation released a report in 2012 stating that unintentional firearms fatalities are down 60 percent over the last two decades and that includes hunting incidents as well. According to data complied by the NSSF, firearms account for only a half-percent of hunting related fatalities. Top dangers for hunters include falls and motor vehicle accidents, but those are decreasing too. The NSSF calculates roughly 50 individuals are injured for every 100,000 sportsmen. This means that compared to hunting, a person is:
- 11 times more likely to be injured playing volleyball
- 19 times more likely to be injured snowboarding
- 25 times more likely to be injured cheerleading or bicycle riding
- 34 times more likely to be injured playing soccer or skateboarding
- 105 more times likely to be injured playing tackle football
In the years between 2006 and 2010, more than $300 million were distributed to states from taxes on firearms and ammunition, which can only be used in hunter education programs. States like Michigan take full advantage of the given funds to make hunter safety courses more efficient and student friendly. According to WOOD TV8, Michigan only experienced 15 incidents and one fatality, making 2012 the safest hunting season for the state in five years.
Michigan DNR Law Enforcement Chief Gary Hagler advises hunters to handle firearms safely, be aware of their surroundings, and to wear orange clothing.
Minnesota is also reporting a safer hunting season. Maybe it’s because of the 4,300 volunteers teaching 1,300 classes to 23,000 students last year alone.
We now see hunting incidents become news because there are so few,” said Minnesota DNR Program Coordinator Mike Hammer. “We know that hunters are making the proper choices out there, as to when and when not to pull the trigger.”
Hunter safety classes also draw in new crowds and a new generation to the sport.
“Hunting is part of our heritage and an important tradition,” Hammer said. “It is a safe activity and is getting safer because of our dedicated volunteer instructors around the state.”
Featured Image from TEKN Photography on the flickr Creative Commons, Chart courtesy National Shooting Sports Foundation