Wyoming Wildlife Violator Compact a Useful Tool

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Since the 1990s, wildlife enforcement officers have had an effective tool to assist in the prevention and enforcement of game law violations.

In 1991, the Interstate Wildlife Violator Compact (WVC) was implemented with five states joining that first year. Wyoming joined the WVC in 1996. The states that are now part of the WVC number 30 with several more to likely be added in the near future.

According to the Wyoming Game and Fish Department, the compact makes it easier to manage the enforcement of game law violations. If a person has been issued a citation and their home state is a member of the WVC, the person can sign the promise to appear and be released in the field without posting a bond. If that person fails to comply with the terms of the citation, it can result in license suspension in all of the participating states. If a person's license is suspended or revoked in a member state, the perpetrator is subject to similar revocation in all member states.

Wyoming Game and Fish Wildlife Investigator Kathy Crofts has worked on dozens of cases involved with the Wildlife Violator Compact. "If a person receives a revocation in Wyoming, we provide that information to his/her home state," Crofts said. "Likewise if a Wyoming person has a license revoked in another member state, that information is provided to us. Names of all who have had suspensions or revocations are placed on a database, making it relatively simple for us to cross reference names to see if they are complying with the terms of their revocation."

Crofts said revocation of hunting privileges not only takes away the privilege of procuring or purchasing hunting, fishing and trapping licenses, but it also prohibits the individual from taking any wildlife. A suspended hunter would be guilty of taking without a license and taking an animal while under suspension; thus, twice the penalties. This also means in Wyoming where "no license is required to hunt animals such as coyotes, red fox and jackrabbits, a person with hunting privileges suspended could not take these animals either."

On a positive note, Crofts said there is a high degree of compliance with those who have had their license privileges revoked. "Most hunters comply with the terms of their sentence, but, we have had some cases where hunters did not understand the terms of their suspension and were in violation. We have also had other cases where hunters knowingly purchased licenses thereby violating their sentence. When this happens, those individuals are subject to heavier fines and multiple years added to their previous suspension."

When license privileges are suspended it also suspends the ability of the individual to apply for Wyoming preference points. Wyoming resident hunters can apply for preference points for moose and bighorn sheep, and nonresidents can also obtain preference points for moose, bighorn sheep, elk, deer and pronghorn. Under the terms of the suspension, a person would not be able to apply for preference points during the calendar year in which the person's license privilege was revoked or suspended.

"We think the compact has had the result of reducing game law violations," Crofts said. "It certainly has made it easier for us to have compliance with citations, and it not only keeps those who would violate game laws out of Wyoming, but many other states as well."