Monday, September 19, 2011

Cheating danger exists for new deer check-in system

Some state wildlife officials are quietly expressing concern that the new deer registration process will allow for easier cheating of recording animals that are killed.

Along with the computerized online system now being employed to issue fishing and hunting licenses, the system likewise establishes the checking of a killed white-tail by phoning in the information or by using a home computer.

Successful hunters also can stop at a license-issuing agent who will perform the chore in the same fashion.

Under the program deer hunters are issued a paper document which must be protected against the elements. The first section is the “temporary” tag that must be affixed to the deer’s carcass before moving.

At some point - even from the field - the successful hunter can call in or log on and provide some basic information.

After that process is completed the hunter is issued a permanent deer tag number. This number is then inscribed on two detachable forms, one of which must always accompanying the hide and head and the other required to accompanying the meat.

However, of concern is that an unscrupulous hunter could photo-copy the entire deer tag prior to being used and then simply re-record the same permanent deer tag number on any and all subsequent bogus documents.

And unless a county wildlife officer or a game processor checks each multi-digit permanent deer permit number to verify authenticity, the poacher could get away with committing a crime.

“It’s entirely feasible and it is very likely that the person would get away with it unless an officer checks the tag at some point,” said one Ohio Division of Wildlife official who asked not to be identified. “That same guy is probably cheating the system now, though.”

Yet it is something that the Wildlife Division intends to keep an eye on, also says Mike Tonkovich, the agency’s chief white-tail deer management biologist.

Tonkovich says he and his crew will be following the deer kill figures closely to see if any anomalies crop up that would indicate any widespread cheating under the new deer check-in system at:

“We’ll have to compare harvest figures with other indices, like deer killed on highways and bow hunter observations,” Tonkovich said.

Still, the new system benefits hunters by making it much easier to check in a deer - and that’s a good thing, said Steve Madewell, executive director of Lake Metroparks and himself a dedicated deer hunter.

“Finally, good hunters are being accommodated without the fear that someone may be cheating,” Madewell said.

“I think it’s great and I’m happy to see that the Division of Wildlife has moved into the 21st Century. We need to be doing more to make it easier for people to go afield and hunt and fish.”

- Jeffrey L. Frischkorn

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