Poachers beware: States make pact to punish violators | AspenTimes.com

Poachers beware: States make pact to punish violators

Greg Reed
Special to The Aspen Times
Aspen, CO Colorado
Contributed photoTaking an elk, or any game, illegally in Colorado can carry consquences in a number of other states that are members of the Wildlife Violator Compact.

GRAND JUNCTION, Colo. ” A hunter who violates the regulations in the state of Colorado may be lucky to hunt anywhere else anytime soon.

Colorado is a charter member of the Interstate Wildlife Violator Compact, which in 1991 became effective in Nevada and Oregon, as well.

Add 25 more states to that list. Simply put, lose your hunting or fishing license in Colorado, and it’s a darn good chance that trouble is going to follow you to your home state.

“You screw up here and we’re going to suspend your license and other states are going to honor that suspension ” 28 other states, and Alaska just got on board,” said Randy Hampton, spokesman with the Grand Junction office of the Colorado Division of Wildlife.

A look at the map says it all. Twenty eight states are on board, two have just passed legislation to join the compact and eight more are in the process. Simple math shows that leaves just 12 states not on board with the compact.

“The protection of the wildlife resources of the state is materially affected by the degree of compliance with state statutes, laws, regulations, ordinances, and administrative rules relating to the management of such resources,” reports Bob Thompson, assistant chief of law enforcement, on the DOW website. “Violation of wildlife laws interferes with the management of wildlife resources and may endanger the safety of persons and property. The Interstate Wildlife Violator Compact establishes a process whereby wildlife law violations by a non-resident from a member state are handled as if the person were a resident.”

Violations can range from blatant poaching to not knowing what one is doing in the field. In other words, hunters need to know where they are and what they’re hunting.

Hunters are somewhat of a fraternity. While most of them are good, honest men, women and children, there’s the immoral folk in every lot.

Studies indicate that poachers may kill almost as many animals and fi sh as legitimate hunters during legal seasons.

The good news is that, most of the time, it’s other hunters turning in the poachers. And there are a number of ways to do it.

There’s Operation Game Thief, a DOW program that pays rewards to citizens who turn in poachers. Anyone with information regarding illegal activity can call 1-877-COLO-OGT, or 1- 877-265-6648. Callers don’t have to leave their names or testify in court.

But, for some hunters, reward money doesn’t mean as much as the coveted preference points. That’s what makes Turn In Poachers, or TIP, so valuable in Colorado. The program began in 2004 and allows people who turn in poachers to receive preference points, or even licenses in some cases. The TIP program applies only to reports of illegal take or possession, or willful destruction of big game or turkey.

Unlike Operation Game Thief, there’s no anonymity in TIP. In order to be eligible for the license or point rewards, said reporting party must be willing to testify.

Either way, poachers just may be looking over their shoulders now, instead of through their scopes. “It’s simple,” Hampton said. “You come here and act like an idiot and it’s going to follow you home.”

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