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MADISON

-- Hunter Safety Administrator Jon King is urging Wisconsin hunters to wear body harnesses when using tree stands in light of new research documenting injuries and deaths from falls.

"The research shows falls from tree stands and similar elevated platforms are the largest source of injuries and deaths of hunters nationwide - and this includes Wisconsin," King said of the research from the 2016 Wildlife Society.

The research also showed "the most avid hunters" face a 1-in-20 chance of suffering an injury in a fall from a tree stand during a lifetime.

"Tree stand incidents are preventable," King said. "This is why we ask hunters to take some time to review tree stand safety rules."

King offers these safety tips and a website link with more tree stand safety tips:

  • Always wear a full-body harness also known as a fall-arrest system. Connect to your tether line and keep your tether line short. The tether is designed to keep you in the seat, not to catch you after you fall.
  • Always have three points of contact while climbing into and out of the tree stand: This means two hands and one foot or two feet and one hand at all times.
  • Always use a haul line to raise and lower your unloaded firearm or bow into and out of the stand. You can also use the haul for other things like a heavy backpack.
  • Use a lifeline when climbing up and down, this keeps you connected from the time you leave the ground to the time you get back down.
  • Be aware of suspension trauma. Suspension trauma can happen in less than 20 minutes and can be fatal. Attaching an additional foot strap to the body harness will take pressure off your upper legs.

Prefer a course instead? Consider this free online treestand safety course. A 15-minute investment of your time in taking an online safety course could save your life. The Treestand Manufacturers Association provides a free, interactive course that you can finish in minutes.

More information is available by searching the DNR website, dnr.wi.gov, for keywords "tree stand."

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