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Pennsylvania Game Commission boss says hunting in state is 'as safe as it's ever been'

STEVE HEISER
717-505-5446/@ydsports
Bryan Burhans

Pennsylvania's turkey hunters enjoyed a record-setting spring season in 2019.

No, we're not talking about the number of turkeys harvested. We're talking about hunter safety.

For the first time in history, not a single hunting-related shooting incident was recorded during the state spring turkey season, according to the Pennsylvania Game Commission.

“Hunting in Pennsylvania is as safe as it’s ever been," said PGC executive director Bryan Burhans in a news release. "But at the same time, we continue to work toward an even better safety record. Perfection is always the goal, and I couldn’t be more proud of the perfect performance our spring turkey hunters turned in last year.”

The 2020 spring turkey season is scheduled to start Saturday and runs through May 30.

The hunter-safety results from the 2019 spring turkey season are part of a larger report on hunter safety that the PGC announced Wednesday. Overall in 2019, there were 26 hunting-related shooting incidents. It was the seventh consecutive year with fewer than 30 HRSIs and one of the safest years on record. However, four of the incidents in 2019 were fatal.

The Pennsylvania spring turkey season starts Saturday and ends May 30.

In 2018, there were 27 HRSIs, one of them fatal.

Pennsylvania has compiled data on HRSIs since 1915. In its annual reports on HRSIs, the Game Commission establishes an incident rate by computing the number of accidents per 100,000 participants. The 3.06 incident rate in 2019 was a decrease from the 2018 incident rate of 3.16.

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Overall, 58% of incidents reported in 2019 were inflicted by others, and the primary cause of HRSIs.

Aside from there being no HRSIs in the spring turkey season, there were none in the fall turkey seasons either.

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HRSIs in Pennsylvania have declined nearly 80% since hunter-education training began in 1959. In 2019, 30,821 students, 22,526 traditional course students and 8,295 online students, received their Basic Hunter-Trapper Education certification in Pennsylvania. The educational effort is spearheaded by 1,828 volunteer instructors.

Information for this story was provided by the Pennsylvania Game Commission.