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September 27, 1999

Hunting license system blasted

Process fraught with delays, DNR, hunters say

Associated Press

LA CROSSE, Wis. -- A computer system that has caused delays in getting licenses for hunters, anglers and trappers, has state officials concerned as this fall's gun-deer season approaches.

``We will get this fixed one way or another,'' George Meyer, secretary of the state Department of Natural Resources, said about the state's new Automated License Issuance System, or ALIS.

Meyer said last week that his office was reviewing legal options against Central Bank, the Missouri-based company that provided the computer system. Meyer said he and others at the DNR are working on a backup system.

Nobody could be reached Sunday by the Associated Press at Missouri listings for Central Bank.

In previous years, people would buy licenses and tags from state DNR offices, county clerk's offices or designated vendors. The process usually took a few minutes for clerks to issue handwritten licenses.

The Douglas County Clerk's office stopped selling licenses when the state switched to ALIS this year. Former county clerk Raymond ``Bud'' Somerville decided that the small number of licenses the office sold didn't make it worthwhile to switch over to the new system.

The state's intention in switching to the Missouri-based computer system was to speed up the process for customers and clerks, but there have been reports of delays during busy periods, such as Sept. 17, the day before the state bow-deer season opener.

``It always happens when the crunch comes... during last-minute purchases,'' Meyer said. ``Our next major concern is the days before the gun-deer season opens.''

The Friday before the season opener is traditionally the busiest day for buying licenses. With more than 650,000 hunters expected for the Nov. 20 gun-deer season opener, no one is looking forward to Nov. 19 or the few days preceding it.

The motto at Ace Sportsland in La Crosse is ``You snooze, you lose,'' said Ron Gehrke, a store clerk. If hunters wait until the last day to buy a license, they stand a good chance of not going hunting opening day, Gehrke said.

``Do you want to come and pick up our computer? It's not very good,'' Gehrke said. ``As soon as it comes under stress from everybody using it, it breaks down. It's a nightmare.''

``Whatever the DNR is hooked up to, it isn't capable of handling,'' added Ron Pearson at R&E Sporting and Avon Shoppe in Tomah.

Roger Wendling, owner of Monsoor's Sports Shop in La Crosse, also is unhappy with the system. He says ALIS is costing him money and hurting employee morale each day it remains in his store.

``My employees keep asking me when I'm going to get rid of it,'' said Wendling, watching three employees huddle around the computer trying to figure out how to void a transaction.

Meyer said he has spoken with officials at Central Bank of Missouri several times and will continue until problems are corrected. Wisconsin is the sixth or seventh state to adopt ALIS, Meyer said.

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-- Homer Beanfang (, September 27, 1999


Related article:

Computer delays hunt permits

-- Homer Beanfang (, September 27, 1999.

This is another instance of inappropriate use of computers (as most are). Just because the technology is available, someone figures that it should be used. Even if one grants the right of the state to grant licenses (which I don't), paper works fine. The only reason they want it on computer is so they can add the information in eventually to a larger more comprehensive database of your activities, interests, health status, financial status, property ownership, etc.

Hopefully, even if not a Y2K 9 or 10, this will be a system not salvaged by way of triage.

-- A (, September 27, 1999.

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