The Vermont Fish and Wildlife Department reported zero hunting related shooting injuries (HRSIs) in 2021, continuing a multi-year trend of declining HRSIs in Vermont.
The department attributes the success in part to a strong culture of safety among Vermont hunters, and the state’s required Hunter Education Program.
“Since hunter education became a requirement in Vermont in 1975, HRSIs have dropped precipitously,” said Commissioner Christopher Herrick. “Hitting the goal of zero HSRIs this past year is a testament to the important work being done through our Hunter Education Program and in the wider hunting community.”
The department stresses that its hunter education effort and Vermont’s safety-focused hunting culture is a community accomplishment.
“Our hunter education program relies on over 350 dedicated, knowledgeable volunteer instructors,” said Nicole Meier, the department’s Hunter Education Program Coordinator. “They are incredibly effective bridges between the department’s programs, hunting organizations across the state, and the wider hunting community.”
Working alongside department staff and game wardens, Hunter Education Program volunteer instructors are responsible for teaching the basics of firearm safety to roughly 3,500 youth and adult-onset hunters per year.
They also cover other skills like correctly identifying game species, and principles like respecting landowners, which the department considers essential for anyone hunting in Vermont to know.
“This year’s success with zero HSRIs is a reminder of why we dedicate so much of our time to this work,” said Hunter Education Program volunteer instructor and Hubbardton resident Katrina Ducharme. “It’s a good sign for the future of hunting in Vermont.”