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New fishing license app needs a reboot

By Mark Freeman

Mail Tribune

Oregon’s new web-based phone app for hunting and fishing licenses and tags had a tough first week, but state wildlife officials hope it doesn’t scare anglers and hunters away from using the new app.

App-based salmon-steelhead harvest cards wouldn’t work offline, and missing or misdated big-game tags marred the app’s launch.

Beginning Jan. 1, anglers noticed that their downloaded harvest card failed to work when their mobile device was either out of range from an internet signal or were switched to airplane mode, according to the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife.

Some 2018 deer tags were showing up as valid for 2019, and some people didn’t see a 2019 cougar tag in their Sport Pac package of all fishing and hunting licenses and tags, ODFW spokeswoman Michelle Dennehy says.

Those problems have been fixed with updates to the app, which must be redownloaded through users’ app stores for those updates to work on their phones, Dennehy says.

“There’s going to be bugs, and there’s going to be more, but we got it fixed quickly,” Dennehy says.

“We appreciate people are willing to give it a shot, and we hope to see more people come on as more people become accustomed to it,” she says.

Early licenses purchased through the web-based vendor, JMT Technologies in Maryland, show that Oregonians remain leery of the new system, which the agency installed for convenience of users and at a savings of about $1.5 million a year over the old point-of-sale license system that dispensed licenses and tags on waterproof paper.

Oregonians have the option of downloading the portable app on their phones or tablets, printing their licenses and tags on their own, or visiting a store where someone can purchase their licenses and tags online for them and print them out.

Through midday Thursday, ODFW had sold 31,441 licenses and tags that were printed on paper, either in homes or at former point-of-sale stores such as The Black Bird Shopping Center in Medford, according to ODFW. Only 11,257 licenses and tags were sold through the downloaded e-tagging app, records show.

“We do appreciate people trying the new e-tagging system, and we obviously apologize there was this inconvenience,” Dennehy says.

ODFW staff have heard anecdotally that some anglers and hunters will continue using paper licenses and tags for 2019 while such bugs get worked out, Dennehy says.

“Maybe we’ll see more movement to electronic next year,” she says.

People can change from paper to the new app anytime during the year, but not vice versa, Dennehy says.

A greater surge of license purchases will occur around the May 15 deadline for controlled-hunt tag applications, and as spring trout-fishing resumes, she says.

The agency has extended the Jan. 31 mandatory reporting deadline for hunters to April 15.

Reach Mail Tribune reporter Mark Freeman at 541-776-4470 or mfreeman@rosebudmedia.com. Follow him on Twitter at @MTwriterFreeman.

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