An Act Enhancing the Enforcement of Illegal Hunting Practices

Summary

Poaching—the illegal harming or killing of wildlife—is a serious problem across the country and in the Commonwealth. Law enforcement officials report that poachers are rarely, if ever, breaking the law to put food on the table. This legislation elevates Massachusetts’ penalties for poaching to bring them in line with other states. This will provide adequate deterrence for poachers who illegally exploit wildlife and cheat ethical hunters and other residents. The bill does not create new crimes; it simply elevates fines, jail time, and license suspensions for existing laws, some of which have remained unchanged since the 1930s. It also creates an elevated penalty for chronic poachers who repeatedly violate the law, in order to give the Massachusetts Environmental Police an additional tool to target those who intentionally and repeatedly disregard our laws. Additionally, this legislation would bring Massachusetts into a nationwide law enforcement network known as the Interstate Wildlife Violator Compact. Massachusetts is one of just 7 states that is not a member or in the process of joining. Membership in the compact will end our state’s status as a “safe haven” for out-of-state poachers whose licenses have been suspended in other states and it prevents resident violators from evading punishment by applying for a license in a state other than where the violator lives.  This legislation was engrossed in the Senate during the 2013-2104 session.