In the early 1980s, the law enforcement units of the Western Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies discussed the concept of a compact between states to address wildlife violations based on the format in use by a number of states for handling motor vehicle violations by visitors to other states. Wildlife and resource protection needed some additional teeth when dealing with individuals who moved freely among and violated the wildlife and resource laws in various states.
Public Law No. 293, H.R. 7353 was passed June 6, 1934 and re-codified May 24, 1949 as Title 4 USC Section 112. This law allows the states to enter into compacts for cooperation in prevention of crime. The section reads: "The consent of Congress is hereby given to any two or more States to enter into agreements or compacts for cooperative efforts and mutual assistance in the prevention of crime and in the enforcement of their respective criminal laws and policies, and to establish such agencies, joint or otherwise, as they may deem desirable for making effective such agreements and compacts." In 1989 Colorado, Nevada and Oregon passed the first enabling legislation in their respective states, setting up the Interstate Wildlife Violator Compact (IWVC). It continues today, with new states joining the Compact each year.
When a person has their hunting, fishing and/or trapping privileges legally suspended in the Compact state where the violation(s) occurred, the suspension may be recognized by all of the member states of the Compact. Having your privileges suspended in Montana means you may also be prevented from hunting, fishing and/or trapping in all the Compact member states. This not only prevents chronic violators from simply moving their activity to another state, it provides a form of deterrence that is often more powerful than monetary fines and penalties.
The Compact provides a benefit for violators, as well. Non-compact states often prevent their officers from releasing a non-resident violator on their own recognizance, for lack of jurisdiction when the violator leaves the state. Consequently, non-resident violators in a non-compact state are typically required to post an often-substantial cash bond to encourage their compliance with the ticket, or else be booked into jail until they can post bond or appear before the judge.
Under the Compact, if violator fails to comply with a ticket issued in a member state, the issuing state can request the violator's home state to immediately suspend the violator's hunting, fishing and trapping privileges in their state until they comply. With that ability, the non-resident violator (if a resident of a Compact state) in many cases can be handled in the same manner as a resident violator and released on his or her own recognizance. This saves the violator from having to produce a potentially large sum of cash for bond, or a trip to the county jail. Nevertheless, the non-resident violator may still be arrested for violations that have jail time as a mandatory penalty, any felony violations, or any crimes that the arresting officer would deem serious enough to arrest a resident violator.
In 1999, Utah Division of Wildlife Resources developed a system that allows each state to enter their suspension information into the IWVC database. This information can be downloaded by member states to run checks against their state's license files for persons purchasing licenses while under suspension.
Montana became a member of the IWVC on February 3, 1996 and the IWVC became law under Title 87, Chapter 1, Part 8 of the Montana Code. In the spring of 2004, MFWP fully integrated the IWVC database with the new MFWP Automated Licensing System and Internet License Sales. The integration of these systems identifies persons with privilege suspensions who purchase or attempt to purchase licenses or enter drawings for which they are ineligible. Attempting to purchase or purchasing a license or permit while under privilege suspension in Montana, or any Compact state, is unlawful under Montana Code 87-1-102(4) and 87-1-804, and will result in additional fines and extended suspensions of hunting, fishing and/or trapping privileges.
Visit our Interstate Wildlife Violator Compact member states page for more information.
Questions? You can obtain information about the IWVC in Montana by contacting the Law Enforcement Bureau of Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks, P.O. Box 200701, Helena, Montana 59620; or phone (406) 444-2452.