WorldCom collapse may affect issuance of Texas hunting &

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August 15, 2002

WorldCom's troubles may affect hunting, fishing licenses

By Mel Phillips, Amarillo Globe News

It is with some fear and trembling that many are watching and waiting to see whether the issuing of the new annual hunting and fishing licenses in Texas will be affected by the bankruptcy of WorldCom.

It is the second year that the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department has used the former high-flying company to handle the computerized issuing of the licenses that expire Aug. 31 each year. However, this will be the first time that the "normal" problems and long lines will be handled by a company that has admitted it cooked the books by nearly $7,000,000,000 - yes, $7 billion dollars, and counting.

Assuming that all goes well (as an angler, I am a natural optimist), here's the deal for the 2002-2003 hunting and fishing season: New hunting and fishing licenses for 2002-03 will be available beginning today, and the TPWD is urging customers to buy early and avoid the Labor Day weekend rush.

Texas issues 3.2 million hunting and fishing licenses annually through 28 TPWD field offices, more than 100 state parks, and at many sporting goods retailers across Texas. License buyers will see a new look to their hunting and fishing licenses this fall with the transition to a new format implemented by WorldCom.

WorldCom is in the second year of a five-year contract to handle TPWD license sales. Rather than the sales receipt printout license of recent years, new printing technology has enabled TPWD to provide better graphics and a more user-friendly product. The new version will resemble the traditional Texas license with detachable game tags around the license.

Hunters will also note the new required game log on the back of their licenses this year. In addition to tagging a harvested animal, hunters will need to fill out harvest record information on their license. A blue square TPWD is part of the new format and will differentiate the license from previous versions.

Hunters and anglers may also purchase licenses by calling (800) 895-4248. The phone-license operation serves both Texans and non-residents, enabling hunters and anglers to buy licenses over the phone using Visa, MasterCard and Discover. Hours of operation are 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday through Friday and 9 a.m. to noon Saturday. There is a $5 processing fee on all phone orders. A license confirmation number is issued at the time of purchase, and the physical license is mailed separately. Confirmation numbers will verify that a license has been purchased and will allow hunters and anglers to participate in activities that don't require tags.

Anyone planning to hunt migratory game birds such as dove and waterfowl must be certified under the Harvest Information Program. Certification requires answering a few brief questions when purchasing the license. Hunters of migratory game birds should verify that the HIP certification is printed on their licenses. Lifetime license holders must also be HIP-certified to hunt migratory birds.

Annual resident hunting and fishing licenses cost $19 each, and a combination hunting and fishing license costs $32. My favorite license is the Super Combo license that includes a resident combination hunting and fishing license plus all seven state hunting and fishing stamps for $49. Sold separately, the face value of the Super Combo package is $82. Senior sportsmen can purchase the discounted Senior Super Combo license for $25 or the $10 senior combination hunting and fishing license.

While getting that new license, be sure to pick up two copies of the free 2002-2003 Outdoor Annual. John Jefferson does a terrific job of editing this 104-page brochure that covers the highlights of the rules that affect hunting and fishing in Texas. For the most part, it is written in simple terms and definitely belongs in your glove box and next to your easy chair.

Perhaps some year, Outdoor Annual will have a special page that features the changes in RED that have been adopted since last year.

Mel Phillips, a licensed fishing guide and winner of numerous awards for journalism and broadcasting, is an active member of the Texas Outdoors Writers Association, a tournament angler and an avid hunter. He hosts a Wednesday evening outdoors call-in show on KGNC Radio that airs from 6:10 until 7 p.m. featuring local lake reports and the latest fishing and hunting information. His e-mail address is fishman@netjava.com. His Web page is located at http://www.searchtexas.com/melphillips.
 

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