The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) approved a random-drawing method of obtaining hunt permits Thursday instead of the first-come, first-served method in use now.
This change takes place in the 2010-11 hunting season for all permit hunt types currently using the first-come, first-served issuance method, other than recreational use permits, also known as user-pay permits.
Recreational use permits are issued too early in the year to allow adequate time for changes in 2010. These will be issued by random drawing in the 2011-12 season.
“We should add the requirement that you must have in your possession a wildlife management area permit when you apply for a limited-entry-hunt permit,” said Chairman Rodney Barreto, after moving that the Commission accept staff recommendations.
The FWC has been using the Total Licensing System to process all of its recreational hunting and fishing licenses and permits since Oct. 1, 2003.
However, problems with the system provided by an outside vendor have increased over the years for hunters seeking limited-entry-hunt permits on a first-come, first-served basis.
These problems have resulted in an inequitable distribution of permits and customer dissatisfaction.
“The FWC will continue to work with stakeholders this year to ensure a smooth and equitable transition to a random drawing,” said Greg Holder, FWC assistant executive director.
He stressed that the Total Licensing System vendor, Active Outdoors, does many things well, such as processing the 2.3 million fishing and hunting licenses and permits purchased annually.
The first-come, first-served limited-entry hunts account for only 5 percent of the limited-entry permits issued.
“FWC staff concluded the risk of failures with first-come, first-served hunts has increased to an unacceptable level,” said Diane Eggeman, director of the agency’s Division of Hunting and Game Management.
The FWC based the need for this recommendation on feedback from stakeholders and on documentation of system problems.
“People seeking hunting permits for alligators encountered similar problems, so the FWC switched from the first-come, first-served method to random drawing for those hunts in 2009, and 59 percent of the public liked the change,” Holder said.
Commissioners directed staff to continue with the lengthy rebidding process to replace the current TLS contract.