VANCOUVER--Hunters and anglers should be able to purchase hunting and sport fishing licenses very quickly and conveniently and significantly reduce the amount of paperwork they must carry--due to action taken by the Washington Fish and Wildlife Commission this weekend.
The commission also approved three-year white sturgeon management policies for the Columbia River.
The new computerized licensing system, known as the "Wild System", based on the current schedule, could into effect statewide in April, 2001.
The Wild System offers several benefits, including:
- Reduction of the time to purchase licenses at dealer stores from about 15 minutes to two
- Reduction of more than 20 licensing, transportation tag and catch record card documents to a maximum of four
- Improvement of WDFW's ability to keep track of revenues and make better budget projections.
- Giving WDFW the ability to get timely information about fish and wildlife harvest levels and ensure dealers have adequate numbers of licensing documents and pamphlets
The Legislature in 1996 directed WDFW to simplify the licensing system and in 1998 provided the authority to charge the transaction fee.
To fund the system, which will be operated by a private contractor, the commission yesterday authorized WDFW to add a 10 percent transaction fee to the cost of hunting and fishing licenses, in keeping with the 1998 legislative intent. Those fees will go directly to the company selected through a bidding process to develop and operate the Wild System. Commissioners said the fee could be reduced after negotiations with bidders are concluded.
The commission approved a white sturgeon management management plan in the Columbia River through 2002 that reduces the sturgeon harvest and allocates the catch between sport and commercial fishers. The commission directed WDFW Director Jeff Koenings to negotiate details of the fisheries with the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife.
The commission also ruled that harvest plans for white sturgeon on the Pacific coast of Washington and in Puget Sound be consistent with stock rebuilding efforts in the Columbia.
In other business, the commission voted to:
- Expand the number of spring bear permits in the Blue Mountains from 70 to 100 and extend the season by 10 days. The number of permits and days was extended because the area has a surplus of bears and last year's late spring kept bears in their dens until the last week of the hunting season
- Protect the mardon skipper butterfly and northern leopard frog as state endangered species and the Olympic mudminnow as a sensitive species Biologists said populations of the animals in Washington are declining due to development, pollution, the introduction of exotic species and other factors
- Ban the possession of live bottom fish by commercial fishers to protect stocks of rockfish and other species, some populations of which are in poor condition