As odd as it may seem, a terrible hunting accident two weekends ago in the Adirondacks is a reminder of something that New York state government does well.
The Associated Press reported late last week that a 53-year-old man from Warrensburg was hunting with his two sons when one of them accidentally shot him. The man died.
Given the number of hunters who take to the field every year in New York, that sort of accident is rare. We know that similar tragedies have happened right here in Chautauqua and Cattaraugus counties but, again, they are rare.
We credit the state Department of Environmental Conservation's mandatory hunter education classes for teaching people how to be safe and responsible while hunting.
According to the DEC, the 10-hour classes cover basic firearms handling and outdoor skills plus hunting techniques. Hunters are also required to take classes to hunt deer and bear with bow and arrow. They learn about the things that make bowhunting a special challenge.
You cannot get a hunting license in New York without taking the classes.
The courses are free - and here's where we compliment the state: The sportsman education programs are paid for in part by federal aid in wildlife restoration, which is funded by purchases of hunting equipment. At the state level, funding comes from the sale of hunting and trapping licenses.
In other words, hunters and trappers themselves pay for sportsman education and wildlife conservation through taxes and fees on their sport.
The DEC said that since the 1960s, the number of hunters has declined about 20 percent, while the rate of shooting-incidents has declined more than 70 percent.
The past 5-year average is 5.3 incidents per 100,000 hunters, compared to 19 per 100,000 in the 1960s.
"New York has an extremely safety-conscious generation of hunters, thanks largely to over 60 years of dedicated efforts of more than 3,000 volunteer sportsman education instructors," the DEC says.
While the family involved in the accidental shooting in the Adirondacks will be a long time recovering, we believe the rarity of what happened stands as proof of the state's success.