HARRISBURG — For the second year in a row, Pennsylvania hunters have rewritten history in regard to safe hunting.
According to a state Game Commission report, there were 27 hunting-related shooting incidents in 2013.
That total not only represents a decrease from the previous year, it’s a record low.
In Butler County, there only was one incident. A 16-year-old had a nonfatal, self-inflicted wound from a handgun while coyote hunting in January 2013.
The commission has been tracking shooting incidents since 1915, and there never had been fewer than 33 incidents reported in a year. Decades ago, hundreds of incidents occurred each year.
The commission noted that the requirements for hunters to wear orange in many seasons and hunter-education efforts help create safer hunting.
In 2013, 41,000 people received their Basic Hunter-Trapper Education certification in the state.
Commission executive director Matthew Hough said in the report, “We continue to be encouraged by record low numbers of incidents and the continuing trend of safer hunting in Pennsylvania.”
Hunting-related shooting incidents have declined by nearly 80 percent since hunter-education training began in 1959.
Two of the 27 incidents reported in 2013 were fatal, the report stated. Except for 2012 — the first year without a single reported fatality related to gun handling in hunting and trapping in Pennsylvania — at least one fatality has been reported each year. The number of fatal incidents has declined sharply over the years.
The game commission establishes an incident rate by computing the number of accidents per 100,000 participants.