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ODFW shifts to smartphones for licenses

The days of long lines of hunters buying licenses and tags in sporting-goods stores on the eve of deer-hunting season will be a thing of the past under Oregon’s new plan to make its licensing system virtually paperless.

Unless, of course, you want to get a paper license at the store for ol’ times sake.

The Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife will drop its point-of-sale system in favor of a new and less expensive electronic licensing system that will allow hunters and anglers to buy licenses and tags directly over the internet from the new vendor, Maryland-based JMT Technologies.

They also will be able to download an app that will allow them to use their smartphones to tag their salmon, steelhead, halibut, deer and other species that require tagging, said Erica Kleiner, the agency’s management resources division administrator.

The downloaded app will record the tagging regardless of whether the hunter/angler has phone service in the field, Kleiner said.

“Our customers have made it clear they want a user-friendly online purchasing experience,” Kleiner said.

“We think it will be well received,” she said. “We want it to be a really fluid process.”

Those who want to carry paper licenses and tags can print them out themselves, according to ODFW.

Those without access to a computer and printer can still go to any license agent to get licenses and tags over their computers, ODFW spokeswoman Michelle Dennehy said.

The current point-of-sale system handles about 2.2 million transactions annually, Dennehy said.

The new system is scheduled to go live Dec. 1, when the agency begins selling licenses and tags for 2019. The in-field app, however, is scheduled to be available March 1, she said.

The vendor is still working out how hunters and anglers will tag their quarry via their phones, Kleiner said. Until that’s resolved, use of the paper tagging will be necessary.

JMT Technologies will provide training documents and video clips for how to use the system this fall, Dennehy said.

The change will save the agency about $1.4 million a year, in part because the licenses and tags won’t be printed on special paper, Kleiner said. ODFW also will no longer supply computers and printers to point-of-sale outlets, she said.

The new contract with JMT Technologies will cost ODFW $1.15 million per year over eight years, Dennehy said.

License fees for the public will not change, Dennehy said.

Kleiner said she began working on the new system about a year and a half ago, and the change has the support of the Oregon Fish and Wildlife Commission and ODFW Director Kurt Melcher.

Under Melcher, the agency recently has streamlined its angling regulations and is in the midst of doing so with hunting regulations.

Reach Mail Tribune reporter Mark Freeman at 541-776-4470 or mfreeman@rosebudmedia.com. Follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/MTwriterFreeman.

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