The Interstate Wildlife Violator Compact
Have you noticed the world seems to be getting smaller? When I was a youngster, I lived on a farm in the southeastern Ozarks of Missouri. My world was a tight-knit farming and logging community, and I seldom ventured far from home. It was a treat to go to the small towns nearby, and a trip to Poplar Bluff or St. Louis was unbelievably adventuresome. It was almost unimaginable to travel to another state. Most people in the 1950s and '60s did their business and enjoyed their recreation close to home. Hunting and fishing were local activities, mostly with friends and relatives. Poaching was mostly a local problem, too, and everyone knew who was likely to disregard the wildlife laws.
Things have changed since those days. People seek hunting and fishing opportunities farther and farther from home, including in other states and nations. Unfortunately, poachers are doing the same thing. This means communication and cooperation between the states and between nations have become more important. Conservation law enforcement agencies routinely exchange intelligence information, and wildlife officers connect to each other through such organizations as the North American Wildlife Officers Enforcement Association.
Interstate wildlife violation investigations are becoming more and more commonplace. One such investigation was recently completed by Missouri and Iowa to stop cheaters who were claiming resident hunting and fishing privileges in both states. It is very common for conservation agents to uncover illegal hunting and fishing activities by resident poachers that actually occurred in other states or countries.
One very effective tool used to help stop poaching is the Interstate Wildlife Violator Compact, which Missouri joined in 2000. This Compact is similar to the Interstate Drivers License Compact. The Interstate Wildlife Violator Compact allows Missouri to honor hunting and fishing license revocations from other member states, and vice-versa. When someone’s privileges are revoked for wildlife violations in Missouri, those privileges are also revoked in other Compact member states. When someone is prohibited from hunting or fishing in another member state, we also prohibit them from fishing or hunting in Missouri. After all, we don’t want habitual poachers from other states to come to Missouri simply because they can’t hunt in their home state.
State membership in the Compact also allows Missourians who receive a wildlife citation in another member state, in most instances, to accept the citation from the officer at the scene of the violation and continue on their way immediately after agreeing to comply with the terms of the citation. Should the person not comply, the state where the violation occurred will provide information to Missouri to begin suspension procedures according to Compact guidelines.
Currently 22 states are members of the Compact, with several other states in the process of becoming members. Revocation of hunting and fishing privileges has been shown to be a great deterrent to would-be wildlife law violators, and cooperation among the states makes it even more effective.
With all our modern advancements, interstate travel and growing human population, the world does seem to be getting smaller. With the advent of the Interstate Wildlife Violator Compact, the poacher’s world has suddenly become a little smaller, too.
Dennis Steward, Protection Division Chief