Senate Bill No. 221
(By Senators Barnes, D. Hall, Jenkins, Nohe and M. Hall)
[Introduced January 8, 2014; referred to the Committee on Natural Resources; and then to the Committee on the Judiciary.]
A BILL to amend and reenact §20-2-7 of the Code of West Virginia, 1931, as amended, relating to hunting, trapping or fishing on lands of another person; and absolving the landowner and his or her tenant or agent of civil liability for injuries suffered by a person hunting, trapping or fishing on his or her lands with or without written permission.
Be it enacted by the Legislature of West Virginia:
That §20-2-7 of the Code of West Virginia, 1931, as amended, be amended and reenacted to read as follows:
ARTICLE 2. WILDLIFE RESOURCES.
§20-2-7. Hunting, trapping or fishing on lands of another; damages and restitution.
(a) It is unlawful for any person to shoot, hunt, fish or trap upon the fenced, enclosed or posted lands of another person; or to peel trees or timber, build fires or do any other act in connection with shooting, hunting, fishing or trapping on the lands without written permission in his or her possession from the owner, tenant or agent of the owner. The owner, tenant or agent of the owner who has given written permission is not liable in civil damages for any injuries received on the lands by the person or persons to whom permission was given. An owner, tenant or agent of the owner also is not liable in civil damages for injuries received by persons shooting, hunting, fishing or trapping on the grounds or lands without written permission.
(b) Any person who hunts, traps or fishes on land without the permission of the owner, tenant or agent of the owner is guilty of a misdemeanor and, liable to the owner or person suffering damage for all costs and damages for: (1) Killing or injuring any domestic animal, fowl, or private game farm animal; (2) cutting, destroying or damaging any bars, gates or fence or any part of the property; or (3) leaving open any bars or gates resulting in damage to the property.
(c) Restitution of the value of the property or animals injured, damaged or destroyed shall be required upon conviction pursuant to sections four and five, article eleven-a, chapter sixty-one of this code. The restitution ordered for private game farm animals shall be equivalent to or greater than the replacement values for deer listed in section five-a in this article.
(d) The owner, tenant or agent of the owner may arrest a person violating this section and immediately take him or her before a magistrate. The owner, tenant or agent of the owner is vested with the powers and rights of a natural resources police officer for these purposes. The officers charged with the enforcement of the provisions of this chapter shall enforce the provisions of this section if requested to do so by the owner, tenant or agent of the owner, but not otherwise.
(e) The provisions of subsections (b) and (d) of this section related to criminal penalties and being subject to arrest are inapplicable to a person whose dog, without the person’s direction or encouragement, travels onto the fenced, enclosed or posted land of another in pursuit of an animal or wild bird: Provided, That the pursuit does not result in the taking of game from the fenced, enclosed or posted land and does not result in the killing of domestic animals or fowl or other damage to or on the fenced, enclosed or posted land.
NOTE: The purpose of this bill is to absolve the landowner, tenant or agent of the landowner from any civil liability for injuries to any persons hunting, trapping or fishing on the landowner‘s land with or without written permission.
Strike-throughs indicate language that would be stricken from the present law, and underscoring indicates new language that would be added.