PORTLAND - Anglers who have their equipment but haven't had the chance to pick up a 2002 license don't have to worry, for another few days anyway.
   That is because Oregon's Department of Fish and Wildlife (ODFW) is letting anglers and hunters do their fishing and hunting unlicensed until Jan. 23, 2002. Continued problems with the department's computerized licensing system in the first few days of the year prompted the decision.
   That licensing system won't be starting operation again until next week, but any big game hunters in the remaining big game hunts must still possess a valid license and tag.
   Hunting and fishing does not require a license but still requires an adherence to all the harvest rules. Bag limits, methods of take, recreation hours, and seasons shown in the 2002 game bird, big game and angling regulations all apply.
   "We do not want to inconvenience hunters and anglers with repeated trips to Point of Sale (POS) vendors and agency offices to get their 2002 licenses during this period of computer difficulty," said ODFW Director Lindsay Ball.
   Ball signed an emergency rule which is allowing fishing and hunting without a license or even a combination harvest tag for salmon, steelhead, sturgeon and halibut. But big game hunters must still have a valid license and tag. "We'll accommodate big game hunters in the best way possible at offices where we have the capability to issue hand-written licenses and tags," Ball said.
   Anyone needing tags for the few big game hunts open right now will be called and advised on how to get a tag. Most such hunters have purchased their tags. Cougar hunters will need to go to an ODFW office to purchase a tag. Outdoorsmen and women can also hunt waterfowl, upland game birds, western gray squirrels (in open parts of the Rogue unit) and unprotected mammals (listed in 2002 Big Game Regulations, page 9) without a license until Jan. 23.
   Waterfowl hunters need a valid federal waterfowl stamp. Parking permits for Sauvie Island Wildlife Area are waived until Jan. 23. But a furtaker license that can be purchased through usual procedures at Portland Headquarters is still needed by anyone capturing fur-bearing animals.
   Individuals wanting to apply for controlled spring bear hunts may mail in the controlled hunt application form with applicable fees for a hunting license and application. The deadline for those bear applications is Feb. 10.
   Those with combined or hatchery harvest cards for angling do not have to fill out the card until after January 23.
   Commercial fishing license holders must obey all rules.
   Only select ODFW offices may issue hand-written documents. The following offices are among them: Portland headquarters, Clackamas, Corvallis, Roseburg, Bend and La Grande. Other ODFW offices may issue hand-written licenses and tags from 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. They include: Enterprise, Hines, John Day (morning only), Klamath Falls, Ontario, Pendleton, Salem, Sauvie Island, Springfield, and The Dalles. Hunters or anglers who purchased a hand-written hunting license or one-day fishing license on Dec. 31, but need an annual fishing license or combination hunting and angling license may bring the hand-written document to department offices and request a refund of those costs when purchasing the appropriate documents. The public can continue to purchase licenses and tags at any POS vendor or ODFW office when the system is operating. Vendors with computerized systems are expected to have them running again by January 24.
   "This sporadic technical difficulty is frustrating to the public and the employees trying to provide the best possible service," added Ball. "During this period, people will be able to pursue their hunting and fishing activities and allow us time to rectify the problems with the system."
   Problems with the Point of Sale system on Jan. 2 and 3 compelled Ball to make the emergency rule affective after the system originally went down for six hours Dec. 31. It was working again Jan. 1, before failing. More information is available at local ODFW offices.
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