The number of hunting fatalities in Minnesota has dropped substantially in the past few decades, a trend that state officials attribute to effective firearm-safety programs.
A Bemidji Pioneer report says 30 years ago there were averages of 55 shooting incidents including eight fatalities per year. Now there are half as many shootings, with an average of two to three deaths.
Mike Hammer coordinates education programs for the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources. He says the biggest reason for the drop is that most hunters today have taken courses on firearms safety and hunter education.
He says that's why shooting numbers are down, even though the number of hunting licenses has nearly tripled since 1968.
Hammer notes one unfortunate trend -- five cases in five years in which dogs cause accidental firearm discharges.