People who have their driver’s licenses suspended in another state aren’t allowed to drive in Maine.

That’s thanks to something called the Driver’s License Compact recognized by all but four states.

It has a simple motto, “One Driver, One License, One Record.”

The same principle has been applied by 35 states to hunting, fishing, trapping and outdoor vehicle violations.

These states belong to the Interstate Wildlife Violator Compact, which means home-state laws apply to out-of-state offenses.

Maine should become the first New England state to join that compact.

Interstate poaching is clearly a problem here and in other states.

Last month, four Turner men were charged with hunting crimes here and soon will face as many as 150 additional charges in Pennsylvania.

Currently, poachers and wildlife violators from other states can, and no doubt do, come here to hunt and fish.

States that do not join the compact quickly become the go-to states for violators who lose their privileges in their home states.

If they have broken laws in other states, they are more than likely to break laws here.

The violators can have a major, long-term impact on wildlife populations, sometimes wiping out a local deer herd in a couple nights of hunting.

Sometimes they take the meat with them for personal use or resale. Sometimes they simply kill animals for the thrill of it.

The compact would prohibit violators from obtaining a hunting or fishing license here. At the same time, it would prevent some unethical Maine violator from simply traveling to another state to hunt or fish.

That might make some people nervous, but Sportsman’s Alliance of Maine Executive Director Matt Dunlap told the Sun Journal he would not oppose efforts for Maine to join the compact.

“Why would we want to invite career violators into the state of Maine?” Dunlap said.

Former SAM Director George Smith agreed it would be a good enforcement tool, pointing out that these people often violate other laws as well.

“When you get into these really bad groups of people (who poach), it’s a lot of stuff beyond illegally shooting deer.”

Indeed, one of the four Turner men recently charged, Everett H. “Lenny” Leonard, 59, also is charged with drug trafficking and criminal trespassing.

Joining the compact should also make potential violators think twice about violating the law.

Violators often realize there is a low probability of getting caught. It is one thing to go to another state, get caught, pay a fine and never go back.

But it is another thing to lose your home-state privileges and be barred from outdoor activities in 36 other states.

The vast majority of Maine’s sportsmen and visitors respect the rules and recognize that wildlife resources belong to the people of Maine.

There is no right to hunt or fish. It is, instead, a privilege offered only to people who follow the laws and practice good sportsmanship.

The Interstate Wildlife Violator Compact is clearly in the best interest of Maine’s law-abiding residents.

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The opinions expressed in this column reflect the views of the ownership and editorial board.


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