SPRINGFIELD - With the hunting season in full swing, the Illinois Department of Natural Resources (IDNR) is reminding hunters to be safe this season. Officials are encouraging those interested in hunting to take the necessary precautions to ensure their safety. That includes following all state hunting laws and completing one of the department’s free hunting safety courses.
“Safety is the top priority of the Office of Safety Education and the DNR. Most hunting accidents can be prevented if hunters act smart and responsibly. I encourage those planning to be out this season to take necessary precautions to ensure their safety and the safety of others,” said IDNR Acting Director Sam Flood.
Last year in Illinois, there were 31 hunting-related accidents, two being fatal. Of those, 15 were Class A accidents involving the discharge of a hunting device. In the 16 remaining accidents reported last year, hunters were injured by either falling out of a tree stand or climbing a tree to get into or out of a tree stand.
“Tree stand accidents are the number one cause of hunting-related accidents in Illinois. While tree stands do offer certain advantages, they can also be dangerous if not used correctly. We’re reminding hunters to take appropriate caution to make sure this hunting season is a safe and enjoyable one,” said Jeff Hopkins, Safety Education Administrator for the IDNR.
Safety experts remind hunters they should always use a full body safety harness when installing or using a tree stand. Hunters should also make sure their tree stand is installed properly and that they use a haul line to raise an unloaded firearm or bow into a stand.
The 31 hunting-related accidents last year compares with 33 accidents reported in Illinois in 2004 and 15 accidents and one fatality reported in 2003. The IDNR issued nearly 300,000 hunting licenses last year.
Illinois law requires that anyone born on or after January 1, 1980, must successfully complete a free hunter safety education course before an Illinois hunting license can be issued. The courses are coordinated by the IDNR and are taught by volunteer safety instructors. The courses include instruction on hunting regulations, hunter ethics and responsibility, archery, firearms, ammunition, first aid, wildlife identification and conservation. A minimum of 10 hours of instruction is involved.
Those who complete the course and pass the final exam receive a certificate of competency. Last year, more than 17,000 students completed the course.
For more information on hunter safety education courses and the complete schedule of IDNR safety education programs, call 1-800/832-2599 or check the IDNR web site at http://dnr.state.il.us/lands/education/safety/index.htm