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Preventing Convicted Wildlife Poachers from Hunting in Massachusetts (Massachusetts)

An Act Further Regulating the Enforcement of Illegal Hunting Practices (H.4442)

Modernizes penalties for illegal hunting and enters Massachusetts in the Interstate Wildlife Violator Compact

Updated

February 10, 2022

Work Type

Legislation

Status

Active

Poaching — the illegal killing or harming of wildlife — is a serious problem in the Commonwealth. According to Environmental Police records, there are nearly 1,500 known violations of Massachusetts hunting, trapping, and fishing laws each year. These violations include killing protected species and killing animals out of season. The animal victims of poaching, often injured or orphaned, turn up too often at Massachusetts wildlife rehabilitation centers.

An Act Further Regulating the Enforcement of Illegal Hunting Practices (H.4442) would help ensure the well-being and conservation of native species important to Massachusetts ecosystems by deterring poaching in two ways:

  1. Modernizing penalties for illegal hunting, some of which are out of date by about a century, and
  2. Authorizing Massachusetts to join the Interstate Wildlife Violator Compact, which already benefits every other state wildlife agency in the continental United States.

Although certain penalties for illegal fishing in Massachusetts were updated in 2018, current penalties for illegal hunting are insufficient to deter poachers. Current fines for illegal hunting are a mere slap on the wrist or the cost of doing business. This legislation brings Massachusetts’ laws more in line with other states.

Compact membership also serves as a powerful deterrent against poaching and has been helping wildlife agencies increase compliance with wildlife laws for over 30 years, which is why 49 states are already Compact members. Compact membership will ensure Massachusetts’ wildlife officials have the opportunity to prevent convicted wildlife poachers from coming to the Commonwealth to circumvent the loss of their hunting, trapping, or recreational fishing privileges in other states. It allows for reciprocal recognition of hunting, trapping, and recreational fishing license suspensions or revocations. If enacted, this would end Massachusetts’ status as the last safe-haven in the U.S. for convicted poachers who have lost their license or even earned a lifetime hunting ban in one or all 49 Compact member states.

Massachusetts: Urge Your State Representative to Crack Down on Illegal Hunting

Protect wildlife by updating Massachusetts’ penalties for illegal hunting and entering Massachusetts in the Interstate Wildlife Violator Compact.

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This legislation was filed by Senator Mike Moore (D-2nd Worcester) — a former Massachusetts Environmental Police officer — and, jointly, by Representative Lori Ehrlich (D-8th Essex) and Representative Ann-Margaret Ferrante (D-5th Essex). It was referred to the Joint Committee on Environment, Natural Resources, and Agriculture, heard on June 8, 2021, and released with a favorable report as H.904 (carrying S.587). It was referred to House Ways and Means, which released a redraft of the bill with a favorable report as H.4442 on February 9, 2022. It passed the House on February 9, 2022. It has been referred to Senate Ways and Means.

This legislation is supported by a broad coalition of animal protection, environmental, conservation, and sportspersons organizations as well as the Massachusetts Environmental Police Officers Association. It was first filed in the 2013-14 legislative session and has historically been released from the Joint Committee on Environment, Natural Resources and Agriculture and passed unanimously in the Senate.

If enacted, this would end Massachusetts’ status as a safe-haven for convicted poachers whose hunting, trapping, or recreational fishing license has been revoked or suspended in any of the 49 member states.