Maine is one of 15 states in the country that has not joined the Interstate Wildlife Violator Compact, a cross-state reciprocity agreement that recognizes suspension of wildlife licenses in one state and applies it to another.

So, if someone in Pennsylvania is convicted of a hunting crime and his or her license is suspended, that person cannot receive a nonresident hunting license in any other state in the compact.

According to Maine Warden Service Capt. Dan Scott, the compact is effective because “fish and wildlife violators really have no jurisdictional boundaries,” so it makes sense to ensure a suspended license in one state is suspended elsewhere because “natural resources belong to everybody in the country.” And, every state in the country has problems with poachers. “They’re just different people” state by state, Scott said.

None of the New England states belong to the compact, and efforts in Maine to join have been resisted so far.

That’s about to change.

Sportsman’s Alliance of Maine Executive Director Matt Dunlap said SAM would not oppose efforts for Maine to join the compact.

Maine’s former Secretary of State, Dunlap said the Maine Department of Motor Vehicles checks new driver’s license applicants to make sure their license to operate is not suspended in other states, so it makes sense to apply that same policy to hunting and fishing licenses.

“Why would we want to invite career violators into the state of Maine” to poach fish and wildlife? he asked.

Outgoing SAM Director George Smith agreed.

Smith said joining the compact would be a good tool to assist the Warden Service with law enforcement, because “when you get into these really bad groups of people (who poach), it’s a lot of stuff beyond illegally shooting deer.”

Smith and about three dozen other outdoor leaders in Maine, including Inland Fisheries and Wildlife staff and members of Maine’s various sportsmen and landowner groups, are also working on a new comprehensive deer plan that is, Smith said, “designed to build and sustain a large deer herd throughout the state.” Part of that plan is increasing efforts to investigate and prosecute poachers, and expanding the mission of local law enforcement — outside the Warden Service — to respond to landowner problems and complaints.

One of the group’s recommendations is that Maine wardens conduct more undercover work to catch the worst offenders of Maine game laws, focusing on those who purposely and illegally kill deer on a large scale.

Recommendations also include increased penalties for violations on private land, and providing landowners with financial reimbursement to repair damages caused by lawful and unlawful recreational users.

The goal of the plan is to build landowner relations through better and more aggressive policing of violators, recognizing the privilege the public now enjoys in accessing private lands and enticing landowners to keep their land open for recreational users.

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