Online Hunt Application Process will be Suspended Next Year

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Once the online application process for the spring 2005 draw is concluded on Oct. 12, the hunt application process will revert to having a manual system with paper applications for the next year.

In response to a July court ruling that declared Arizona’s 10-percent cap on nonresident hunt permits for certain big game animals unconstitutional, the Arizona Game and Fish Commission last month directed the department to suspend the online application process for one year, effective with the fall 2005 big game draw. The commission also directed the department to implement an improved online application system for the Fall 2006 draw that will include a method to charge tag fees up front.

The commission also voted to proceed with the following:

1. Require all big game permit applicants to purchase a hunting license. The commission approved rule language, pending an opinion from the Attorney General’s Office on a potential conflict with state gambling statutes, which would require individuals to purchase a license in order to apply for the big game draw.

2. Change Arizona statute so that parts of bighorn sheep cannot be sold, and to create a set-aside for nonresidents. The commission directed the Game and Fish Department to develop language for legislation to prohibit the sale of parts (heads, horns and hides) of bighorn sheep taken with future permits, and approved rule language to set aside no more than 15 percent of sheep tags for nonresidents to be allocated through a separate, nonresident-only draw. The commission also directed the department to run an analysis of what effect nonresidents have historically had on resident hunting opportunity for bighorn sheep and to use this number in final determination of the set-aside percentage.

3. Create a loyalty bonus point. The commission approved a notice of proposed rulemaking to create a loyalty bonus point that would be awarded to individuals who buy a license and apply for big game hunts for five consecutive years. The point would be genus specific and would be retained as long as the hunter continues to apply at least once per calendar year for that genus. Year one for the purpose of the 5-year calculation of this program would be 2001.

4. Increase the bonus point pass percentage to 20 percent. The commission approved a notice of proposed rulemaking to increase from 10 to 20 percent the bonus point pass percentage, meaning that 20 percent of tags would be set aside for applicants with the highest number of bonus points.

5. Create a conservation bonus point. The commission approved a notice of proposed rulemaking to create a new conservation bonus point valid for any genus for which a bonus point is issued. The point would be awarded upon accrual of 48 hours of volunteer work performed during a 3-year period. Unlimited conservation bonus points would be available, but could only be accrued at the rate of one per year. Points would be forfeited, by genus, upon a successful draw. The commission also voted to direct the department to develop proposed legislation to establish a $10 conservation bonus point application fee.

6. Explore license and application fee increases. The commission directed the department to develop legislation for proposed license fee increases for both resident and nonresident hunters. The department will refine these proposed increases and will seek further public input through the department Web site and through a series of public meetings before the legislative session begins.

Most of the commission-approved proposals will now enter the formal rulemaking process, during which the public will have an opportunity to provide additional comment. A draft final rule package is expected to be submitted to the commission at its December meeting in Phoenix. Updates will be posted on the department’s Web site,