Senate Bill No. 298
(By Senators Unger, D. Hall, Cookman, Tucker, Fitzsimmons, Williams and Cann)
[Originating in the Committee on Natural Resources;
reported February 13, 2014.]
A BILL to amend and reenact §20-2-37 of the Code of West Virginia, 1931, as amended, relating to hunting and fishing generally; clarifying when officer can request information and inspection from a person appearing to be hunting, fishing, trapping or taking wildlife; and stating that mere possession of a firearm is not indicative of hunting.
Be it enacted by the Legislature of West Virginia:
That §20-2-37 of the Code of West Virginia, 1931, as amended, be amended and reenacted to read as follows:
ARTICLE 2. WILDLIFE RESOURCES.
§20-2-37. Authority to request information and inspection from a person appearing to be hunting, fishing, trapping or taking wildlife; mere possession of a firearm not sole evidence; constitution protections.
(a) Any person having in his or her possession in or near the fields or woods, or about the streams of this state, any dog, gun, fishing rod or other hunting, fishing or trapping paraphernalia, shall, upon demand of any officer authorized to enforce the provisions of this chapter has the authority to require a person who has wildlife, a hunting dog, firearm, or other equipment indicative of hunting, fishing, trapping or taking wildlife in or near the fields, woods or streams of this state to:
(1) State his or her correct name and address; and shall exhibit for inspection: (a) All applicable licenses and documents set forth in section thirty-six of this article ; and (b)
(2) Exhibit for inspection all requisite licenses and documents required by law; and
(3) Exhibit for inspection all firearms, equipment and wildlife which he or she may have in his or her possession.
(b) Mere possession of a firearm does not, in and of itself, indicate that a person has been hunting, fishing, trapping or taking wildlife but may be considered along with other evidence to determine whether a person has been doing so.
(c) Nothing in this section may be construed as authorizing searches that violate article three, section six of the West Virginia Constitution or the Fourth Amendment to the Constitution of the United States, nor may anything in this section be construed as effecting a waiver of these Constitutional provisions.
NOTE: The purpose of this section is to better clarify the distinction between hunters and shooters in the field. It would allow shooters who are in possession of a firearm in or near the woods to not have to possess a valid hunting license.
Strike-throughs indicate language that would be stricken from the present law, and underscoring indicates new language that would be added.