Senate Bill No. 47
(By Senators Williams, Miller, Sypolt and Beach)
[Originating in the Committee on the Judiciary;
reported February 28, 2013.]
A BILL to repeal §19-18-4, §19-18-5, §19-18-6, §19-18-7, §19-18-8,
§19-18-9, §19-18-10, §19-18-11 and §19-18-12 of the Code of
West Virginia, 1931, as amended; and to amend and reenact
§19-18-1, §19-18-2 and §19-18-3 of said code, all relating to
providing a general livestock trespass law; prohibiting
livestock from trespassing; clarifying damages that may be
recovered; permitting containment of livestock; requiring
owner of trespassing livestock be notified; requiring
containment costs be negotiated; permitting containment costs
to be recovered in court; permitting the sheriff to take
possession of unclaimed livestock; permitting unclaimed
livestock be sold at auction; setting forth how the proceeds
of a livestock sale shall be distributed; and establishing
Be it enacted by the Legislature of West Virginia:
That §19-18-4, §19-18-5, §19-18-6, §19-18-7, §19-18-8,
§19-18-9, §19-18-10, §19-18-11 and §19-18-12 of the Code of West Virginia, 1931, as amended, be repealed; and that §19-18-1,
§19-18-2 and §19-18-3 of said code be amended and reenacted, all to
read as follows:
ARTICLE 18. GENERAL LIVESTOCK TRESPASS LAW.
§19-18-1. Livestock trespassing on property of another; damages
for injuries to person or property; notice to
livestock owner; containment of livestock; costs for
(a) If livestock enters the property of a landowner without
that landowner's consent, the owner of the livestock is liable for
damages for personal injury or property damage in a civil action in
magistrate or circuit court.
(b) The landowner must attempt to contact the owner of the
trespassing livestock within forty-eight hours of the trespass. If
the owner cannot be contacted within forty-eight hours, the
landowner shall notify the county sheriff.
(c) The landowner may contain the trespassing livestock on
his or her property, but is not required to do so. If the
landowner is able to contact the owner of the trespassing livestock
pursuant to subsection (a) of this section, he or she shall also
inform the owner of the costs of containment.
(d) The owner of the trespassing livestock and the landowner
shall attempt to mutually agree upon a fair cost for any
containment. A fair cost for containment is an amount which would
be allowed for the sheriff for containing similar livestock
. If the negotiation fails, or i
the landowner is not otherwise
reimbursed for the costs for containment, the landowner may seek
monetary damages in a civil action for these costs.
§19-18-2. Unclaimed livestock; containment by sheriff; sheriff's
sale at public auction.
(a) If the owner of trespassing livestock cannot be
determined, or if the trespassing livestock has not been recovered
within ten days of notifying the owner, the county sheriff shall
take possession of the trespassing livestock.
(b) The county sheriff may return the livestock to its owner
and seek reimbursement for containment costs. If attempts to
return the livestock to the owner fail, the sheriff may, after
publishing notice as a Class I legal advertisement, sell the
livestock to the highest bidder at a public livestock auction.
(c) The proceeds of the livestock sale shall be distributed in
the following order:
(1) Costs incident to the sale;
(2) Costs of containment incurred by the sheriff and the
(3) Any remaining amount to the owner of the trespassing
(4) If the owner is unknown or does not claim the amount
remaining within ninety days, that amount shall be deposited into
the county treasury.
§19-18-3. Criminal penalties for trespassing livestock.
(a) While livestock may escape enclosures due to accident or
unforeseen circumstances, it is unlawful for the owner of livestock
to negligently permit livestock to run at large and trespass on the
property of other landowners.
(b) If livestock injures a person or destroys the property of
another person while negligently trespassing, the owner of the
livestock shall be given an oral or written warning for the first
offense. For a second offense within six months of the first, the
owner is guilty of a misdemeanor and, upon conviction thereof,
shall be fined not less than $50 nor more than $100. For a third
or subsequent offense within six months of the second or subsequent
offense, the owner is guilty of a misdemeanor and, upon conviction
thereof, shall be fined not less than $100 nor more than $1,000.
(NOTE: The purpose of this bill is to revise the antiquated
stock laws of West Virginia. The name has been updated to "General
Livestock Trespass Law." The bill clarifies damages for injury or
loss to person or property from trespassing livestock and permits
costs to be reimbursed for containment of livestock. The bill
requires notification to the owner of trespassing livestock within
forty-eight hours. The bill requires negotiating the costs of
containment. The bill requires unclaimed livestock to be given to
the sheriff for sale at a public livestock auction and the proceeds
of the sale are distributed in a particular order. The bill
clarifies misdemeanor penalties and fines for livestock that
negligently trespass and injure persons or property. The bill also
§19-18-1, §19-18-2 and §19-18-3 have been completely
rewritten; therefore, strike-throughs and underscoring have been