By Rep. Craig Johnson
November 05, 2007
This calculated criminal act and others like it, unfortunately, are all too common here, and all the harder to enforce, thanks to the sheer size of our state. However, there is one valuable way we can change the dynamic and start bringing forces to bear on those who illegally take and waste our fish and game: The Wildlife Violator Compact, or WVC. I am working on a bill which would bring our state into the WVC fold and allow greater effectiveness and efficiency in the state's wildlife enforcement efforts.
Colorado, Nevada, and Oregon initiated the Wildlife Violator Compact in 1989 to give their wildlife enforcement officers a way to cross-reference violators from other states. It allows license revocations associated with the crimes committed in any Compact-member-state to be enforced in all Compact-member-states including the violator's home state. Previously, the risk of hunting illegally was simply getting caught. The out-of-state violator could return home and fail to appear at arraignment, adding a burden to law enforcement and the court system in tracking violators down for extradition. With the WVC, if an out-of-state poacher fails to appear in court for a violation committed in Alaska, state Wildlife Troopers could enter the violator's data into the WVC database, which would revoke the violators hunting or fishing license in all Compact-member-states until the violator appeared to face the charges.
In addition to greatly increasing the communication between enforcement agencies, the WVC allows for hunting or fishing license revocations in member states to be transferred, meaning violators from out of state who commit serious wildlife crimes in Alaska would also have their home state licenses revoked. This change alone brings more offenders to justice by bringing the same sanctions on their home state hunting and fishing privileges as those in the state where the violation occurred. The significant deterrent is that violators won't be able to ignore the citation or summons. The license revocations will cross state lines, forcing them to cooperate to ensure their home state status won't be compromised.
Currently 26 states are members. Fifteen more states are in the process of approving legislation or are awaiting enrollment in the WVC. At present a database of more than 4,100 violators exists that Alaska Wildlife Troopers can search through when processing citations or when an applicant applies for hunting or fishing licenses in Alaska. Information-sharing also means that instead of tracking down poachers who fail to appear, or working on extradition proceedings, Wildlife Troopers can spend more time in the field patrolling and making arrests thus minimizing unnecessary paperwork..
The respective chairmen of the Boards of Fish and Game support this legislation, saying: "The WVC sends a clear message that we value our fish and wildlife resources, and are serious about protecting them." Chairmen Cliff Judkins of the Board of Game, and Mel Morris of the Board of Fish also wrote that: "Passage of this legislation will provide a strong deterrence for the commission of serious fish and wildlife crimes in Alaska, and will remain a priority of the two Boards."
I believe that vigilance, state-of-the-art
tools, and inter-governmental cooperation are highly effective
measures which will keep our state as a world-class destination
for big game hunting and wildlife viewing. By Alaska's participation
in the WVC poachers who disregard our laws will no longer return
home and ignore our legal system.
Received November 02, 2007 - Published November 05, 2007
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