Minnesota DNR sees major drop in hunting deaths over last 20 years

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The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources credits hunter safety programs for a significant drop in hunting fatalities over the last two decades.

The Bemidji Pioneer says there were 57 hunting deaths from 1990 to 2012, an average of 2.5 each year, down from about eight fatalities per year during the 30 years prior.

The cause?

A state law implemented in the early 1990s requires hunters born after Dec. 31, 1979 to complete a firearms safety and hunter education course before they can purchase a firearms hunting license, according to Mike Hammer, the DNR's education program coordinator.

The newspaper said an accidental shooting that killed a 23-year-old Nevis man during a duck hunting trip in northern Minnesota on Oct 5. was the first hunting death of the season.

Hammer says hunter fatalities while duck hunting are rarer than during big-game hunts because of lower-caliber firearms. The last duck hunting fatality occurred six years ago.

The 2013 pheasant hunting season opened last weekend. About 80,000 hunters are expected to take part across Minnesota.

More than half a million Minnesotans and nonresidents hunt in the state each year, DL-Online reported.

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