By Steve Hubrecht

Pioneer Staff

The B.C. hunting licence program is set for some major upgrades, starting in about three years.

The key part of the upgrades is creating an online service, which the Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations hopes will make the whole process of getting a licence simpler, more flexible and faster.

The new electronic licensing program will make it easier than ever for British Columbians to go hunting, said Minster of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations Steve Thomson in a press release.

Hunters will be able to purchase their hunting licences and apply for Limited Entry Hunting (or LEH) opportunities 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Currently hunters can buy licences and LEH applications only from Service B.C. offices, which are usually closed on the weekends and evenings.

The new electric licensing system is a fundamental step in improving access to hunting, said B.C. Wildlife Federation president Bill Bosch in the same press release.

The new electronic system will also create a single point of reference for data collection, including compulsory inspection information, guide outfitter hunter reports and resident hunter harvest information. Compiling all of this information electronically will help the ministry make timely and more informed choices about wildlife management.

It will help ensure sound wildlife management decisions and will support the ministrys conservation goals, said Mr. Thomson in the release.

The ministry hopes to have the electronic service in place for the 2015-16 hunting season. B.C. introduced a similar electronic licensing system for freshwater fishing the fall of 2007.

The electronic hunting licence system will support sustainable wildlife populations by creating a reliable system to collect hunter participation and harvest information. The wildlife federation commends the provincial government for moving forward with this important initiative, said Mr. Bosch.

Hunting generates $9.2 million in licensing revenue for the provincial government and some $500 million to $700 million in broader economic activity, much of it it remote and rural areas of the province.

B.C. Service offices sold more than 100,000 licences for the 2012-2013 hunting season.

The provincial government is inviting bids to design the upgrades. Those interested in submitting a proposal can do so by 2 p.m. on Tuesday, August 20th at