With the increased sophistication of poachers and other wildlife violators, there is a need for increased levels of coordination and information sharing on these individuals between state fish and wildlife agencies. The Interstate Wildlife Violators Compact (IWVC) creates the mechanism allowing for this coordination. The availability of this information helps stop poachers and other violators from moving their illegal activities to another state after receiving a violation elsewhere.
Despite the strong tradition of ethics that most hunters and anglers abide by, there are still individuals that disregard laws regulating hunting and fishing activities. With the increased sophistication of poachers and other wildlife violators, there is a need for improved levels of coordination between state fish and wildlife agencies.
To assist in this coordination effort, the Interstate Wildlife Violators Compact (IWVC) creates a mechanism which allows various state fish and wildlife agencies to share information pertaining to fish and wildlife violations. The availability of this information helps with cooperation between agencies to stop poachers when they attempt to move between states. However, there is currently no clear or efficient appeals process for individuals who are mistakenly flagged as a violator.
The IWVC began in 1985, after Colorado and Nevada drafted an interstate agreement on combatting wildlife violators. The IWVC expanded in 1989, after being passed into law by Colorado, Nevada, and Oregon, which collectively formed the core of the compact. 48 states are members, with the last outlying states of Hawaii and Massachusetts currently in the process of joining. During the 2021 legislative session, Hawaii passed HB 1021, which has since been signed into law, authorizing the Department of Land and Natural Resources to join the compact. During the 2022 legislative session, Massachusetts passed SB 2993/H 4442 to enable the Department of Game and Fish to join the compact. As of August 2022, Governor Charlie Baker signed SB 2993 into law, bringing all 50 states into the compact. A state must pass legislation incorporating the IWVC directly into the state’s statutes or authorizing the state wildlife agency to join.
Points of Interest
- The IWVC is overseen by a board of administrators, comprised of representatives from wildlife law enforcement or licensing authority divisions of participating states. In associated states, the IWVC does the following for the fish and wildlife agencies:
- Allows conservation officers to devote more time to the patrolling, surveillance, and apprehension of wildlife violators.
- Reduces the burden on courts and jail facilities by decreasing caseloads.
- Reduces the number of “Failure to Appear” cases because non-residents cannot ignore a citation from a participating state without facing the suspension of their wildlife license privileges in their home state.
- Serves as a notice to wildlife violators that their activities in one state can affect their privileges, or rights, to recreate in all participating states, possibly including their home state.
- The IWVC does not negatively impact state sovereignty.
- Sharing information pertaining to an open case is obligatory, but recognition of violations is not
Presently, there is no clear or efficient appeals process in place to deal with individuals who have been mistakenly flagged as violators, and efforts should be made to streamline this process. Elected officials should review their state’s participation in the IWVC, and for state(s) that have not yet joined, it is strongly recommended that they support an effort to adopt the IWVC in the future.