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Wisconsin DNR launches new, broad website

Falcon News Service

April 29, 2016

The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources launched a new website last month aimed at making it easier for residents to get outside with Go Wild. The website offers key licenses and registrations in what DNR officials say is a user-friendly, modern format.

The Go Wild site acts as a portal to help plan activities with links to more information on outdoor adventures. The site is part of a bigger campaign where customers can get other kinds of information, such as maps and educational content for bird watching and hiking, according to the DNR.

“Go Wild was in the making for over five years,” said Mike Rappe of the DNR’s Bureau of Customer and Outreach Services. Early on, the leadership from the DNR met with stakeholders, asking what kinds of changes they would like to see. The new system is part of a larger goal to reach a broader base than just hunters, Rappe said.

The new program has been popular with younger people who like to use their phones. Since the launch, Rappe said, more than 30 percent of the DNR’s customers are making purchases from a mobile device, which surprised officials and confirmed the need for updating the portal.

Regional Tourism Specialist Drew Nussbaum from the Wisconsin Department of Tourism said he was glad to see the DNR’s system updated. More and more people are using social media to search for places to go and things to do, and with easier websites, it benefits everyone, Nussbaum said.

The Go Wild site allows customers to create an easy-to-remember username and password which they manage themselves. No longer will they have to look for documents to find numbers to access accounts. People can download the information to a mobile device, according to the DNR’s website.

However, not everyone is impressed with the new system and the process. Johanna Barrett, a student at UW-River Falls and a former hunter, said she has many friends and family who have or will use the the new site.

“My grandpa hates it,” Barrett said, adding that he was upset that he now has to carry around a big piece of printer paper as a hunting license, instead of the old way when a tag was pinned to the back of a hunter’s coat. Barrett noted that if a person loses the printed copy of a license, they can just print another one — which is a plus.

Her younger friends and relatives who are big-time hunters, Barrett added, will find the new mobile-friendly site much easier to use, especially if they can store more than one license on their phones.

The new system has experienced some issues and there has been a backlog of registrations, but the DNR officials said they hope to be caught up with processing soon.

“Decals and registration cards are being mailed to customers by the end of April,” Rappe said. Registration sticker decals have not changed and still need to be applied to all vehicles. Customers will need to show proof of licensing either on their mobile device or have a paper copy on their person, reminded Rappe.

Originally when the new site launched, it was flooded with people trying to register.

“Since the system launched… we’ve sold more than 528,000 products and conducted more than 140,000 transactions,” Rappe said. During turkey hunting tag sales, the DNR was processing nearly 7,500 transactions per hour. In the next couple weeks, the DNR will be concentrating on adding additional technology improvements and fixing software to help make the system easier to use, Rappe said in a press release.

The DNR is now processing registrations for boats, recreational vehicles and snowmobiles and issuing temporary operating receipts. Customers who submitted payment by mail will be provided temporary operating receipts within the next two weeks, according to a DNR press release.

“With the March 31 registration expiration for boats and ATVs, and as part of the changeover to the new Go Wild system, we had more than 95,000 customers send in their registrations via mail during the transition period. The DNR is now processing those and will be issuing temporary operating receipts,” Rappe said.

Customers can still purchase licenses and permits through DNR customer service centers and at more than 1,000 vendors statewide. Customers are being encouraged by the DNR to use Go Wild to register boats, ATVs/UTVs and snowmobiles because the online system is fast and will provide the temporary operating receipt immediately that people can print out at home.

The Go Wild website is found at http://gowild.wi.gov.