JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. – Hunters, anglers, and trappers in Missouri have been buying permits online through the Missouri Department of Conservation (MDC) website since 2011 and through the free MDC "MO Hunting" mobile app since 2014. Retail stores, convenience stores, and other places that sell permits will catch up to this online technology starting March 15.
In mid-March, places that sell hunting, fishing, and trapping permits will switch from selling the familiar plastic-backed, rectangular, yellow permits to selling paper permits. They will also move from selling permits through a special machine connected to a phone line to using a regular computer or laptop with Internet access and a standard printer.
"The most noticeable change for permit buyers will be that permits bought from vendors will be printed on a regular sheet of paper instead of the familiar plastic-backed, yellow tag," said MDC Permit Services Supervisor Nathan Bess. "These paper permits from permit sellers will be the same as the ones people have been buying online since 2011."
Bess added that another noticeable change for permit buyers will be no more processing fees.
"With the old permit system, the third-party provider charged permit buyers a $1 convenience fee for each transaction, every time they bought permits," he explained. "Permit buyers will now save a few dollars because there are no processing fees when you buy permits either directly online or from a permit seller."
Bess said that the move to online permit sales was prompted by both a need to replace outdated technology and to keep up with future needs.
"Selling permits using the old phone-based system compared to online permit sales is like sending someone a message using a fax machine compared to an email or text," Bess said. "Online permit sales are more convenient, current, and reliable for both sellers and buyers."
He added that MDC staff started letting permit vendors know about the switch three years ago so they would have plenty of time to prepare.
"Permit vendors are important to us and we have been helping them move to the online permit system," Bess said. "We've offered them financial incentives to help them buy any equipment they may need and have also provided plenty of training and support."
People can buy Missouri hunting, fishing and trapping permit all around the state at many gas stations, convenience stores, sporting-goods stores, large retail stores, and other vendors – and at many MDC offices and all MDC nature centers.
People can also buy permits directly online from the MDC website at mdc.mo.gov/buypermits and right from their smartphones through the MDC free "MO Hunting" mobile app. One popular and convenient feature of the app is that no paper permits are needed. The app lets users upload electronic copies of all their permits to the mobile device to show as needed.
People can also buy permits over the phone by calling 800-392-4115, using a credit card, paying a $1 fee, and waiting a week for permits to arrive by mail.
Permit sales account for about 18% of MDC revenue and support a wide range of conservation activities around the state, such as raising and stocking millions of sport fish every year, research and management of native game animals and other wildlife, habitat improvements, maintaining and improving shooting ranges, and more.
"More and more people are buying more and more online," Bess explained. "Being able to sell and buy permits online will help maintain conservation funding in the future."