Preference points system changing

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The preference points system, relatively untouched in past years, has undergone several changes.

The first change is referred to as "pay to play," a concept common in other states.

In past years, if a hunter didn't draw a license in his or her choice game management unit (GMU), a preference point was given, and his or her money was returned except for a $3 application fee. Now, a preference point will cost $25.

Additionally, people who make mistakes on their hunting applications will not receive a preference point as a sort-of consolation prize. Beginning in 2007, people who don't apply for licenses for three consecutive years will lose their preference points.

In 2006 only, hunters can utilize what the DOW is referring to as a "banking system." People with different preference points still wishing to hunt together can do so without costing one person years of points.

For example, if one friend has four preference points and his or her companion has 10, they both couldn't hunt in the GMU requiring 10 points, but they both could draw for the four-point GMU. In years past, the hunter with 10 points would lose all 10 and have to start again at zero.

This year only, the hunter with 10 points will lose six points to hunt in a four-point GMU with his or her friend.

Beginning this year, 80 percent of licenses for GMUs 1, 2, 10 and 201 will go to residents, an increase from past years. Residents used to get 60 percent.

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