2009-06-18 / Front Page

Hunting Licenses Go Automated!

Resident doe licenses on sale July 13
By Chanin Rotz-Mountz STAFF WRITER

Local Pennsylvania Game Commission officials announced this week hunting and furtaking licenses are now on sale through a new automated system known as PALS that is not only expected to lighten the load for area issuing agents but also give conservation officers and deputies a foot up while dealing with sportsmen in the field.

Licenses for the 2009-10 season went on sale Monday in conjunction with the commission obtaining the newly acquired services of "Pennsylvania Automated License System" (PALS). Overseen by a company based in Nashville, PALS will allow hunters to visit the commission's online store known as "The Outdoor Shop" or to purchase an automated, computer-generated license through the county treasurer's office or another issuing agent such as Keller's Country Store and Dott Store.

The system is reportedly as easy as "swiping a driver's license" or in the event of the absence of a driver's license manually typing in the sportsman's personal information. All firsttime licenses purchased through PALS, whether it be a hunting and furtaking or a Pennsylvania fishing license, will also require the use of Social Security information.

All information, according to Fulton County Wildlife Conservation Officer Kevin Mountz, will be stored in the system. Each individual buying a license through PALS will be issued a customer identification number, which will remain unchanged for the remainder of the license holders hunting and fishing career.

"This is an easier system for buyers, issuing agents and our agency," said Mountz. "It is also time efficient and a more secure means of storing information."

Mountz indicated the push to go automated arose years ago at the urging of license buyers as well as members of the state's General Assembly. "We're now looking forward to reaping the numerous benefits of utilizing PALS," added the local officer.

Even though all hunting and license fees for 2009-10 will remain at the same prices that were set back in 1999, a 70-cent transaction fee will be included for each license and permit purchased. The fee with the PALS company was set in May 2006 as a result of negotiations with the fish and game commissions.

The 70-cent transaction fee will also be assessed to those opting to participate in the Youth Mentored Hunt. Each adult wishing to take a child under the age of 12 into the field to hunt squirrels, groundhogs, coyotes, spring gobbler and antlered deer will be required to obtain a $1 permit. Each permit will only cover the supervision of one child but will include the transaction fee as well as a $1 issuing agent fee. The permits are available online and through issuing agents, said Mountz.

Another minor changes accompanying the switch to PALS includes the elimination of presenting senior lifetime license identification cards to issuing agents. The system, Mountz stated, will recognize the individual's Social Security or customer identification number. Proof of residency will still need to be established, however.

In addition, Mountz said big game or carcass tags will be printed along with the license but as a separate document. Furthermore, harvest report cards will no longer accompany the license and must be obtained online or through the Hunting and Trapping Digest.

The automated system will also be a benefit to issuing agents when dealing with sportsmen trying to purchase a license while on revocation. In many cases under the old system, individuals on revocation were able to purchase a license through an issuing agent who may not have known of the individual's hunting status and is not required to enforce the law in such situations.

"People will no longer be able to skirt the law and obtain a hunting license while on revocation," Mountz said. "These individuals could only be located when approached in the field by an officer or by obtaining information through a confidential informant."

At the point of purchase, the system will deny issuing a license to individuals on revocation for a variety of reasons, including those who have not taken a mandated, remedial hunter-trapper eduction course, failure to pay child support, certain wildlife and game code violations, and failure to pay fines within 180 days of adjudication of charges. Those individuals denied a license are instructed to contact the commission's Bureau of Wildlife Protection at 717-787- 4024 to verify the current status of their hunting privileges.

"This will be a big help for law enforcement purposes," said Mountz, who noted the PALS system, along with JNET records maintained by PennDOT, will serve as an additional tool for checking violations encountered in the field. In some cases, hunters provide aliases or possibly the name of a family or friend that can now be verified 24-7 with PALS.

Major changes under way during the next month for the Game Commission include the change in dates for submission of antlerless deer licenses. Pennsylvania residents can now begin applying for those licenses on July 13 instead of the first Monday in August. Nonresidents can apply beginning July 27.

In addition, applicants can send their applications to the county treasurer's office of their choice. Each treasurer's office will now possess the capability of issuing a doe license for any Wildlife Management Unit (WMU) as long as the WMU's license allocation has not been exhausted.

Another dramatic change instituted by the Game Commission will allow hunters to list a total of three WMU preferences for doe hunting on their applications. The alteration will eliminate the need to reapply for a license in the event the hunter's first or second WMU preference is unavailable and sold out, Mountz concluded.

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