Last year when Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks launched its automated licensing system, some of us low-tech types wondered if we could trust the thing to work. Was the benefit going to offset the bother of learning to live and do business with a new system?
I was personally relieved to find out that the answer is yes. But last year was just the beginning.
This year for the first time, Montanans can purchase a conservation license, which needs to be renewed annually, online at home almost any time of the day or night. If you’re an angler, for example, you could go out the next day using the temporary conservation and fishing licenses printed on your home printer. The official licenses come in the mail a week to 10 days later.
In fact, all major licenses are available online this year including fishing, two-day fishing, 10-day fishing, paddlefish, spring and fall black bear, deer, elk, migratory bird, turkey, upland bird and mountain lion. Recreation licenses available online include the nonresident parks passport, snowmobile temporary use permit for nonresidents and the state lands recreational use permit.
Beginning April 1, moose, sheep and goat special permit applications—due May 1—and deer, elk and antelope special permit applications—due June 1—can be submitted online. With the wonders of technology, you can’t proceed if you miss an entry or make an error. When you’ve successfully completed the application, it is automatically filed online.
As more people submit their special permit applications online, the drawings may occur sooner, increasing the time successful applicants will have to prepare for the hunt.
Currently, FWP needs extra time after the deadline to decipher each applicant’s handwriting, resolve errors and key in the information by hand before the drawing can occur. Online applications would help minimize this step.
In another new option, antelope licenses and elk permits in hunting districts with unlimited quotas can now be purchased until the June 1 deadline at FWP offices, from local license providers or by clicking on the "Online Licensing" icon. That means hunters can have these licenses or permits in hand immediately. Remember, though, if you purchase one of these unlimited antelope licenses or elk permits that you cannot apply through the special drawings for the same species.
To visit the new automated licensing site, go to the FWP home page at www.fwp.state.mt.us and click on the "Online Licensing" icon, or go to the Discovering Montana web page at http://www.discoveringmontana.com/ under Online Services.
To get to the licensing page you’ll need to enter your name and ALS number. Once you’re on the licensing page, you’ll find direct links to hunting and fishing license information, the regulations, the black bear identification test and the FWP Hunt Planner.
For a demo of how the system works before you get started, click on the bottom right side of the page.
The goal is improved customer service. We hope the new options provide just that.