OLYMPIA– A computerized recreational licensing system which promises to speed customer service, improve accounting and make it possible to buy licenses from home or the road goes into operation March 1.
The new hunting and fishing license sales system, known as the Washington Interactive Licensing Database (WILD), was developed by MCI WorldCom Communications, Inc., under a contract with the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW).
Besides computerizing in-person license sales, the WILD system will offer hunters and fishers the option of purchasing licenses by telephone at (1-866-246-9453), which also goes into operation March 1.
After May 1, recreational license sales also are scheduled to be available over the Internet.
Customers purchasing licenses in person at WDFW offices or sporting goods stores and other retail outlets will be issued license documents on the spot. Those making purchases over the telephone or Internet will be issued an authorization number for use while the physical license is mailed. Persons submitting applications for special permit big-game hunts must use an interactive telephone number (1-877-945-3492).
"The arrival of the WILD system will improve service for our customers while offering our biologists, business managers and enforcement officers better information to help them do their jobs," said WDFW Director Jeff Koenings, PhD.
Operating from a central database linked to individual computer terminals at WDFW offices and hundreds of private license dealers statewide, the WILD system will replace manual license sales, which previously took months to tally. The system will be used for all sales of recreational licenses and also will issue hunt transport tags, special permits and raffle tickets, as well as fishing catch record cards as needed.
In order to accommodate some unique situations a two-day fishing stamp will still be sold without using the WILD system in areas without telephone service and by some charter operators in coastal communities.
Among improvements over the existing manual license system, the WILD system is expected to:
The WILD system was developed after the Legislature directed WDFW to streamline and modernize its license system in 1996.Automated recreational license systems are already in operation in a number of other states, including Idaho and Oregon.
- Speed license sales by cutting the time it typically takes to purchase a license by half.
- Improve information on hunting and fishing effort to better guide WDFW species management.
- Offer more timely information on license sales trends, which in turn will improve WDFW revenue projections.
- Collect license revenues from private dealers more quickly and efficiently through daily electronic fund transfers.
- Improve hunting and fishing enforcement activities by reducing license fraud.
To pay for the WILD system a 9.5 percent transaction fee, approved by the Legislature, will be levied on each license sale. In return, MCI WorldCom Communications, Inc. is providing all the computer equipment, software and training to operate the WILD system for the next five years.
Once the WILD system goes into operation, Social Security numbers will be collected from all license applicants, as required by federal law. That law was enacted as part of a nationwide effort to improve child support compliance. Applicants who are declared by the state Department of Social and Health Services (DSHS) as being six months or more in arrears on child-support payments, will be automatically blocked from purchasing a recreational license until DSHS clears their names. Social Security numbers will not be printed on license documents and will not be visible on WILD computer terminals once they are entered. For more information, see the WDFW FAQ on the Social Security number collection.