The numbers for 2019 are in and they're staggering. Forest Rangers with the New York Department of Environmental Conservation handle a search and rescue mission nearly every day. And those numbers don't include enforcing hunting and fishing regulations, fighting wildfires, or holding educational sessions with students.

Figures just released form the DEC, show rangers participated in 337 search and rescue missions, extinguished 74 wildfires that burned a total of 212 acres, participated in 29 prescribed fires that burned and rejuvenated 645 acres, and worked on cases that resulted in 2,507 tickets or arrests.

As the DEC rolls into their 50th-anniversary things don't appear to be slowing down as they performed two wilderness rescues and a flat ice rescue in just the last week. Although search and rescue efforts often involve people who failed to use common sense or properly prepare when hiking, this past week's were not so common.

A hunter became lost in the Sarnoff State Forest when he wandered about a quarter of a mile off the trail. He was able to screenshot his location for a quick rescue.

The second rescue was a bit more daring. A climber near Chapel Pond in Essex County suffered a possible spinal injury from falling and striking a ledge with his head and neck.

The flat ice rescue happened on North-South Lake south of Albany when two ice fishermen broke through the ice while riding a snowmobile across the water. across North-South Lake. The men were able to rescue themselves while Rangers developed a plan to remove the snowmobile and fishing equipment from the lake.

Some hiking safety tips are basic; don't hike alone, tell someone where you're going and make sure your phone is fully charged. Even if you're hiking in the daytime, take a flashlight just in case. Put a bottle of water and a healthy snack in a backpack too. The DEC has other hiking safety tips and ice fishing safety tips on their website.

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