Electronic tagging may soon be available for hunters

Representative Joel Ferry, R-House District 1, is working with the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources and the Legislature to modernize the state’s hunting tag system.

Ferry has introduced a bill that would make electronic tagging available for hunters of big game or other wildlife that fall into the tag species category.

“I’ve gone on hunts where I’ve forgotten my tag and it’s ruined the hunt,” according to Ferry, “but I’ve never been on a hunt where I’ve forgotten my phone.”

H.B. 167 would authorize the Wildlife Board to look at options to switch from paperless to digital tagging.

Mike Fowlks, Utah’s Director of Wildlife Resources, supports the bill and said “this will help us move into the 21st century.”

Fowlks said the agency introduced a cell phone application for hunting and fishing licenses several years ago, “and it has been wildly successful.” He added, “It’s been downloaded 300,000 times on different devices and used daily by our customers. This bill will allow us to take the next step forward and add permits and tags.”

One lawmaker questioned what would happen if you found yourself in an area without cell service.

“The dead cellphone is an issue,” admitted Fowlks. “We are working through that,” he said. “We want to make sure we have an app that is enforceable and works for our customers.”

“This is voluntary,” according to Fowlks. “We don’t force anybody to switch to paperless. We still provide the paper documents for those folks who are not in the 21st century yet.”

The bill passed unanimously in the House and is now in the Senate for further consideration.

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