The Interstate Wildlife Violators Compact (IWVC) is an agreement among 47 US states for, among other things, “reciprocal suspension” of hunting, fishing and trapping privileges. In other words, those who are found guilty of breaking the law in one state and who subsequently lose the right to hunt and fish legally in that state automatically lose those privileges in all 47 states. As of Dec. 1, 2017, the only states not participating were Massachusetts, Delaware and Hawaii. The former two are moving toward joining, leaving Hawaii the only holdout.
The subject of IWVC was raised by Arizona guide Larry Altimus, who was recently convicted of a serious wildlife violation in Utah (see page 10) and has had his hunting and fishing privileges suspended for 10 years as a result. He told us he’s considering seeking support from fellow sportsmen to repeal the IWVC. “Can you explain to me how a violation in Utah that prevents me from going fishing with a friend in Louisiana is fair?” Altimus asked. “This is not justice, it’s pure vengeance.”
With that in mind, we took another look at the IWVC and its role in wildlife law enforcement. To begin, we asked our friends at International Wildlife Crimestoppers how the IWVC works for them.
Bob Thompson, the IWVC chair for Colorado Parks and Wildlife told us, “The two most effective ‘tools’ wildlife officers/agencies have been able to put into their ‘law enforcement toolbox’ over the last 50 years are the IWVC and the various wildlife ‘crimestoppers’ programs. These programs serve as huge deterrents to would-be wildlife law violators in this mobile society we live in today.”
We’ve seen and publicized a number of cases recently in which information received though crimestopper tip lines has resulted in convictions for wildlife crimes. Someone always knows something, and if everyone shared what they know, we likely could bring most wildlife criminals to justice. The IWVC adds more weight to the penalties; without it, criminals could simply cross a state border and continue breaking laws.”
We recognize that our justice system isn’t perfect and that people are sometimes wrongly convicted of crimes. That’s what the appeals process is designed to correct. We feel genuine sympathy for those wrongly stripped of their hunting and fishing privileges. But we also support the idea of appropriately punishing wildlife violators by taking away their privileges everywhere.
Ideally, everyone would know about the IWVC and its potential penalties and would consider those penalties when deciding whether or not to break the law. Deterrence beats punishment every time, but punishment of those who won’t be deterred is a necessary component of any law enforcement program. We wholeheartedly support the IWVC both for its potential to deter crime and in its severity in punishing those who didn’t take the message to heart.
Barbara Crown, Editor-in-Chief & Publisher
Tim Jones, Editor
Justin Jones, Assistant Editor
Mike Bodenchuk, Editor-at-Large