Anett Kralisch, Christine Cleghorn and Roxanne Stasyszyn, left to right, discuss a review of the hunting lottery system and some of the changes implemented to improve it during a technical briefing on Feb. 26. (Julien Gignac/Yukon News)

YG makes fixes to hunting lottery system

A third party review outlines what went wrong and makes recommendations

Human error and a lack of consolidated information contributed to hunting permit problems last year, according to an independent review of the issue.

Both draws in 2018 yielded incorrect results.

Wrong datasets concerning returns and the re-issuing of permits were used from 2017. Compounding this was the duplication of identification profiles.

While 29 clients had name matching problems fixed by the Yukon Bureau of Statistics, 95 others, out of a total of 223 applications, didn’t, according to the review, which was completed earlier this year. The report notes that despite these flaws, results were still published due to “communication failures” between the Department of the Environment and the YBS.

“Environment was not aware of these errors, so the results were released, with Environment staff thinking the run was correct,” it says.

Along with the review, there was also a public input period and meetings were hosted with stakeholder groups like Yukon Fish and Game Association and the Wildlife Management Board.

Yukoners expect a transparent and reliable lottery system, said Christine Cleghorn, director of the fish and wildlife branch.

Hunters whose applications were unsuccessful were compensated, said Environment Yukon spokesperson Roxanne Stasyszyn at a technical briefing on Feb. 26, where officials discussed implemented changes to better the system.

All applications that were unsuccessful in 2018 received a refund. It cost $10 to apply. Hunters who were unfairly weighted because of duplicated histories will receive an additional year’s weighting, enabling a better shot at winning the lottery.

The review says that two systems used to process lottery results were out of sync. One was semi-automated that contained historical data, the other an electronic system in which hunters were instructed to use to apply for permits. That they weren’t linked caused hunters’ weighting to be dropped.

First and last names and birthdays had to match exactly in both systems, the review says, which, as mentioned, didn’t occur in some cases.

Some hunters created more than one user ID because they forgot their login information, the review says. Some of them were distinct from each other.

There were 246 available permits in 2018. Of 1,158 hunters, 4,311 applications were submitted.

This was “prone to failure,” it says, because there wasn’t data cleansing and integration of system and data.

“The failure in the draw was due to manual steps being missed and poor management of data,” it says. “During the first draw in 2018, an older version of the data that didn’t include the previous year’s permit returns and reissuances was accidentally used.”

The review says that a key person retired in 2018.

“No one else understood the old data, the old system, or the Permit Hunt Authorizations draw process,” it says, calling it a “significant risk” to the fate of the draw.

The new system wasn’t ready to go live, the review says. It was “rushed,” because older data wasn’t converted properly.

The review outlines recommendations.

Long-term ones include implementing industry standard processes, ditching an electronic system called Posse, improved system checks for possible duplication and a better method of managing returns and re-issuances.

There are short-term recommendations, too, including cleaning up data, reviewing results and bringing in an “owner” to oversee the process.

The government has implemented many changes already, officials said at the technical briefing.

Datasets have been consolidated in one system, said Cleghorn. She said it took “significant effort,” and that paper licenses are to be eliminated, replaced with electronic versions.

The application period will be opened up roughly one month earlier, starting on April 15. Under the new system, hunters will be able to log in to their client profiles to verify their own histories on this date.

Data has been “scrubbed” to ensure duplicated files have been corrected.

Applicants will now be able to see their own histories and weighting when they log in to their client profiles.

“What we did for this year is to have from the beginning merged files, so that human intervention is not needed in merging those files and therefore we can eliminate that error,” said Anett Kralisch, acting director of information management and technology.

Kralisch said once the application process is completed and weighting is determined, that data is routed through the bureau of statistics, which runs the lottery with a code, yielding the winners.

Future changes include offering statistics to help hunters know their chances and using an average of two applicants’ weighting when joint applications are submitted, according to a press release.

Contact Julien Gignac at julien.gignac@yukon-news.com

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