Could it just be the poaching bust of the New Millennium? At least you’d think so with 40 wildlife officers from 16 states converging en masse at the Chief Logan Lodge this week. Prospective poachers may just as well have left town under the circumstances. However, this group had some other matters on the mind; namely, some very unique and specialized training with the overall goal of reducing hunting accidents.
It’s called the “CSI Hunting Academy” kind of like the TV show for crime scene investigation. However, this one’s specific to hunting accidents, some of which likewise may entail infractions of the law. The class draws on the investigations of some 2,000 hunting related shootings to bear. The locally hosted class sponsored by the West Virginia DNR (WVDNR) and the International Hunter Education Association (IHEA) per Grand View Outdoors also brings along, “nine instructors from seven states with more than 350 years of experience,” to teach it.
“The academy is designed to train commissioned wildlife officers on how to properly investigate and document hunting related shooting incidents,” per Lt. Tim Coleman, state training officer for the WVDNR. “State Hunter Education administrators then review and analyze the collected data. What they learn is applied to classroom and media outreach efforts to aid in the prevention of hunting incidents. Having the academy at Chief Logan State Park will provide both inside and outside classrooms needed to present this intensive curriculum.”
Per WVDNR, “Attendees of previous Hunting Incident Investigation Academies have learned to collect detailed information that has resulted in a significant reduction in the number of fatalities and injuries from hunting-related shooting incidents. A national clearinghouse database has been created to store data collected from each IHEA member jurisdiction. Standardized reporting forms have been developed so that complete and uniform data can be analyzed. The IHEA has also adopted a standardized definition of a hunting-related shooting incident.”
Per CSI type and other hunter education and safety training, hunting accidents have become all but an endangered species in many of our very own lifetimes. As a former conservation officer, I can confirm that there is little or nothing that takes precedence over the investigation of hunting accidents. The dramatic improvements in hunting safety were somewhat setback by the proliferation in wild turkeys and their related hunting incidents. That too has largely been resolved by education and training efforts.
With archery deer season (Sept. 29) nigh, today’s safety challenge entails a greater effort towards tree stand and tree stand climbing devices. And that means without backsliding on the many other advances and improvements. So maintain that vigilance and be careful out there. Otherwise, the unfortunate situation of a CSI could hit your neck of the woods.