Poachers Beware: Massachusetts Looks to Join Interstate Wildlife Violators Compact

Contact: Joe Mullin, Assistant Manager, Northeastern States and States Program Assistant

Highlights

  • On June 8, the Massachusetts Joint Committee on Environment, Natural Resources and Agriculture will be holding hearings on House Bill 904 and Senate Bill 587 – legislation that would allow the Commissioner of the Department of Fish and Game to enter Massachusetts into the Interstate Wildlife Violators Compact (IWVC).
  • Massachusetts is one of two remaining states that is not currently a member of the IWVC.
  • The IWVC allows state fish and wildlife agencies to collaborate expeditiously in stopping poachers and other violators from moving their illegal activity from state to state.
  • The Joint Committee on Environment, Natural Resources and Agriculture will be accepting written testimony until Tuesday, June 8 at 11:59 p.m. EST.

Why it Matters: Bolstering inter-connectivity between state fish and wildlife agencies is always beneficial for on-the-ground conservation efforts – especially when the purpose of the strengthened relationships is intended to combat wildlife violators. Initiated in 1985, the Interstate Wildlife Violators Compact (IWVC) now has 48 participating states that are coordinating the fight against poaching and other nefarious activities, leaving Massachusetts and Hawaii as the two outlier, non-member states. If Massachusetts were to join the IWVC, it would send a clear message to those who wish to break our nation’s wildlife laws, while also allowing the Commonwealth to further coordinate with the other 48 state wildlife agencies in the sharing of information about wildlife crimes.

When it comes to fighting poachers and wildlife violators, there is no reason why every state should not be on the same page, sharing the most current information and collaborating to prevent repeat offenders from diminishing resources managed in the public trust. The Interstate Wildlife Violators Compact (IWVC) serves to do just that – allowing conservation officers to allocate more time to the patrolling, surveillance, and apprehension of wildlife violators and lessening the burden on the court system by reducing caseloads. The IWVC also serves as a warning to wildlife violators that their reprehensible activities in one state can affect their recreational privileges and/or rights in all participating states – which at this point means all but two (Massachusetts and Hawaii).

The IWVC has received overwhelming support from state fish and wildlife agencies, as evidenced through its popularity in membership. As the Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation (CSF) reported earlier this year, the Hawaii State Legislature passed House Bill 1021, which would authorize the Department of Land and Natural Resources to enter the IWVC. At this point, the bill is awaiting the Governor’s signature, and should it be signed, Massachusetts will be the only state in the nation that is not a member of this critical enforcement tool. House Bill 904 (HB 904) and Senate Bill 587 (SB 587) intend to bring Massachusetts up to speed with recognizing the importance of the IWVC and allow the Commissioner of the Department of Fish and Game to enter the Commonwealth into the Interstate Wildlife Violators Compact.

CSF will be supporting both HB 904 and SB 587 by submitting written testimony and encouraging members of the Joint Committee on Environment, Natural Resources and Agriculture to support both bills. CSF will provide additional updates as they are made available.

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