Prospective anglers (mostly) and even hunters who want to be early birds in getting their 2012-2013 general licenses are finding out that the documents are not yet available.
And won’t be until Thursday, March 1, says the Ohio Division of Wildlife.
Until this year, prospective license buyers could visit an issuing agent and purchase documents for the upcoming license year, starting Feb. 15.
The numbers weren’t huge by any standard, totaling around 7,000 customers who purchased licenses during the February 15 to 28 time frame. Even then, however, the “vast majority of which were free license holders,” said Korey Brown, the Wildlife Division’s District One supervisor who previously nursed the agency’s licenses-issuing system into being.
“This year, we moved the ‘start sale date’ to March 1,” Brown said.
“Actually, we were doing something that we probably shouldn’t have been doing. But there are more positives than negatives.”
The reasons for the change are two-fold, says Brown.
The first is that neither the old system nor the new system is capable of simultaneously selling licenses for the current year and the upcoming year.
This situation created a serious challenge under the old system because it was difficult and time consuming to download the necessary software updates to the end users, retail license agents, Brown says.
“For this reason, we typically started downloading the software updates in early February to ensure that ‘new’ licenses were available for sale by March 1 as required by law,” Brown says.
“It’s important to note also that although this practice was necessary, we were selling licenses on Feb. 15 that weren’t valid until March 1 and instructing wildlife officers to treat them as valid – again because our system was incapable of selling licenses for the current year and the upcoming year at the same time,” Brown said.
The second reason for the start delay, says Brown is because under the new computerized system the Wildlife Division can control when licenses go on sale in real time.
“And most importantly, we can create business rules designed to help the customer,” Brown said. “In years past, we expended considerable time and resources refunding money to customers who intuitively thought the license year mirrored the calendar year.”
Many prospective license buyers would purchased a license in January or February, assuming it was valid for 12 months when in fact it expired on Feb. 28, Brown says.
Now, the software prohibits a customer from purchasing a hunting or fishing licenses as long as that person already holds a valid license, also says Brown.
“This change was necessary and largely positive,” Brown says. “We do not deny that some people were accustomed to purchasing licenses early and they are somewhat confused by the change, but we’re confident they will quickly adapt.”
Also related to the 2012-2013 various licenses and tags once they become available they will be printed on blue-colored standard paper stock. That is, if purchased by a license-issuing vendor, such as a bait and tackle store or a sporting goods store.
This is a bit of a change since the Wildlife Division said several months ago that it would have vendors use regular plain paper stock.
- Jeffrey L. Frischkorn