Upon learning about the Interstate Wildlife Violator Compact, most Alaskans likely would be surprised that Alaska - with such a large annual influx of non-resident hunters and anglers - is not already a member state.
At its most basic, the compact extends penalties against people who violate wildlife regulations to all member states. Lose hunting, trapping or fishing privileges in Alaska and you've lost those privileges in all the other compact states as well.
House Bill 267, currently before the House Resources Committee, would add Alaska to the list of 27 member states that have joined the compact since Colorado, Nevada and Oregon formed the first agreement in 1989. Ohio was the most recent to join, just this month.
The compact adds teeth to wildlife violation penalties. Even more than fines and surrendering equipment, revocation of licenses and losing the privilege to hunt, fish or trap is a penalty that really hurts - and one that serves as a strong deterrent.
Pulling a person's privileges in Alaska may not matter so much to someone who lives 3,000 miles away and may not plan to hunt or fish here again anyway. They could just take up their activities elsewhere. But if Alaska joins the compact, then hunting and fishing in more than half the United States becomes off-limits, including most of the fish- and game-rich western states.
Some states in the compact also have tapped into an IWVC database that assists enforcement. The compact also serves as leverage to force violators to comply with tickets issued in a member state. The issuing state can request a violator's home state to suspend the violator's hunting, fishing and trapping privileges until they comply. Compact cooperation also can save participating states - and respective violators - the need to assign large cash bonds or to take people to jail. That is an administrative time- and cost-saver for law enforcement. Not that those measures can't be taken in cases of the most serious violations.
Legislators will need to take care with passage of HB 267. Few things are as important to Alaskans as wildlife regulations and enforcement, but the state has plenty of examples to follow across the U.S. This is one example of a bill that should expeditiously find its way through the 90-day session and into law.