(The Center Square) – Although the launch of online hunting license sales started off rocky this year, the agency responsible says they have taken steps to improve the process.
Pennsylvania Game Commission Executive Director Bryan Burhans acknowledged issues with rollout on June 26, but said he expected the process to be smoother in the future during a recent Senate Game and Fisheries Committee hearing.
“Now that we have gone through the necessary growing pains,” he said. “We will use the information we have learned to make opening day licensed sales better.”
Burhans explained that the latest upgrade to the process of purchasing antlerless deer licenses allows hunters to do so online, or in person at one of over 600 issuing agents. The commission installed software to control traffic on the site to prevent crashes, but sheer volume – both in person and online – presented problems.
It only took 90 minutes for the system to slow “to a near halt for nearly a two-hour period, which caused considerable backlog and delays,” Burhans said.
After resuming sales before noon, the commission sold 166,108 general hunting licenses and another 164,666 antlerless licenses. As of September 18, sales were up 10.5% – the highest increase in the agency’s history.
Burhans said that since June 26 – the only day the system struggled to handle the volume of sales – they have sold a total of 636,000 general hunting licenses and over one million antlerless licenses, totaling 2.6 million total licenses and permits across all categories.
Burhan told the committee they are working on improvements to head off any problems next year and said a significant part of the solution will be working with hunters to avoid the opening rush.
He said hunters should not feel like they need to be first in line. Unlike purchasing tickets for sporting events and concerts where there is typically more demand than supply, most units still had licenses available into the third round.
Burhans added that the new process did present unknowns, so he doesn’t blame hunters for rushing. Others, according to several committee members, enjoy participating in the first-day ritual as they’d done every year prior.