With the closing of spring turkey season, I was thinking about the telecheck system and how that new technology has changed the way many do business inside and outside the Department.
The concept of Telecheck was first introduced as a savings in time and money for Missouri hunters. A survey of hunters indicated that they drove an average round trip of 32 miles to check a harvested animal. Naturally, other factors such as multiple people in a hunting party, checking multiple animals on one trip, etc., preclude us from knowing exactly how much is spent by the public to check their animals, but a conservative estimate is that a savings in excess of $1.5 million is realized by reducing the travel to check stations. This amount doesn’t even include what the hunters’ time is worth.
In addition to saving hunters money, the Department’s budget has also benefited. In 2003, the Department spent over $782,000 on running and administering the check station system. This included direct payments to vendors and time spent by agency staff supplying and monitoring the check stations. That year 361,020 animals (both deer and turkey) were processed for an outlay of $2.17 per animal checked.
In 2006, the overall cost of Telecheck was a little more than $160,000 or about 45 cents per animal. Interestingly, the number of animals checked was within 200 animals of the 2003 number. The savings in 2006 as compared to 2003 equates to more than $600,000. Part of this savings comes from reducing hours spent by conservation agents administering the check stations. The new system enables law enforcement personnel to check almost instantaneously on individual permits and harvest records, which allows for more efficient enforcement of the regulations.
The new system has also allowed the Department to gather harvest information and make it available in near real time to both the public and staff. Managers now have online access to accurate harvest information that previously took weeks to process. The public used to be provided with season reports that were a snapshot of various time periods (these reports were collected by local conservation employees and then phoned in to the central office). Now these same reports are immediate with harvest information on a county by county basis.
Staff within the Administrative Services Division helped create and implement the Telecheck system, and recently they were acknowledged for their efforts. Last October, the Deer and Turkey Telecheck application was chosen to receive the Organization of Fish and Wildlife Information Managers award for the best Non-GIS Web-based Application. This is one of only two awards this organization presents to recognize technology applications nationwide. The Telecheck application was a major team effort involving staff from Resource Science, Wildlife, Protection and Outreach & Education divisions in the Department and is an example of how behind-the-scenes people impact the business of conservation.
Carter Campbell, administrative services division chief
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