WVC 19 -
CHAPTER 19. AGRICULTURE.
WVC 19 - 17 -
ARTICLE 17. FENCES.
WVC 19 - 17 - 1
§19-17-1. Definition of lawful fence.
Every fence of the height and description hereinafter
mentioned shall be deemed a lawful fence as to any horses, mules,
asses, jennets, cattle, sheep, swine, or goats, which could not
creep through the same, that is to say:
(a) If built of common rails, known as the worm fence, four
and one half feet high;
(b) If built with posts and rails, or posts and plank, or
pickets, four feet high;
(c) If built with stone, two feet wide at base, and three and
one-half feet high;
(d) If a hedge fence, four feet high. If any hedge fence be
built upon a mound, the same from the bottom of the ditch shall be
included in estimating the height of such fence;
(e) If built with posts and wire, or pickets and wire, four
feet high, and shall consist of not less than six strands, the
first strand five inches, the second strand ten inches, the third
strand seventeen inches, the fourth strand twenty-five inches, the
fifth strand thirty-six inches, and the sixth strand forty-eight
inches from the ground; and if with more than six strands, the
space between the strands shall in no case be greater than
hereinbefore provided. The space between the posts shall, in no
case, be greater than sixteen feet;
(f) If built with posts and high tensile galvanized wire,
forty-six inches high, and shall consist of not less than eight
strands, the first strand four inches, the second strand nine
inches, the third strand fourteen inches, the fourth strand nineteen inches, the fifth strand twenty-five inches, the sixth
strand thirty-one inches, the seventh strand thirty-eight inches,
and the eighth strand forty-six inches from the ground. The wire
shall be maintained at no less than a two hundred pound tension at
all times. The space between posts shall, in no case, be greater
than thirty feet, provided that pressure-treated one and one-fourth
inch by one and one-half inch by forty-eight inch slotted hardwood
or one and one-half inch by two inch by forty-eight inch soft wood
battens are used between posts at a distance no greater than ten
(g) If built with posts and high tensile galvanized wire and
electrified, thirty-eight inches high and shall consist of not less
than five strands, the first strand five inches, the second strand
ten inches, the third strand seventeen inches, the fourth strand
twenty-seven inches, and the fifth strand thirty-eight inches from
the ground. The wire shall be maintained at no less than a two-hundred pound tension at all times. The space between posts shall,
in no case, be greater than one hundred fifty feet, provided that
pressure-treated one and one-fourth inch by one and one-half inch
slotted hardwood or one and one-half inch by two inch softwood
battens are used between posts at a distance no greater than
thirty-five feet: Provided, That if said fence is constructed to
confine only horses, mules, asses, jennets, or cattle, it shall be
deemed a legal fence if it is not less than three strands, the
first strand seventeen inches, the second strand twenty-seven
inches and the third strand thirty-eight inches from the ground.
The space between posts shall, in no case, be greater than one hundred fifty feet, provided that pressure-treated one and one-fourth inch by one and one-half inch slotted hardwood or one and
one-half inch by two inch softwood battens are used between posts
at a distance no greater than thirty-five feet. Only high-powered
low impedance fence controllers which comply with international
safety standards shall be used to electrify fence.
All fences heretofore built under the existing law and in
compliance therewith shall be and remain and may be kept up as
WVC 19 - 17 - 2
§19-17-2. Rivers and streams as lawful fences; establishment or
All rivers and streams, and parts thereof, within this
state, which are lawful fences at the time this code takes
effect, under existing laws, shall continue such until otherwise
ordered by the county court of the county. The county court of
any county, upon the written application of any owner or tenant
of lands on any river or stream in such county, or which
constitutes a boundary line thereof, may, in its discretion, by
order entered of record, declare and establish such river or
stream, or any part of either, a lawful fence as to any stock
named in section one of this article. Notice of the application
shall be given by publishing the same as a Class II legal
advertisement in compliance with the provisions of article three,
chapter fifty-nine of this code, and the publication area for
such publication shall be the county. Any person interested may
appear and oppose such application.
The county court may, upon like application and notice of
any person, annul or amend any order made by said court
establishing any river or stream, or any part of either, as a
lawful fence; but such order shall not be made within one year
from the date of the order sought to be annulled or amended, and
shall not take effect until six months after it is made.
WVC 19 - 17 - 3
§19-17-3. Hedge fence.
All hedge fences along public roads, or division hedge
fences between farms or on any land or premises, shall be kept
trimmed so that their branches shall not extend into the public
road, or upon the lands of an adjoining owner, more than eighteen
inches over the dividing line. For failure to keep the hedge
fence so trimmed, after ten days' notice in writing by the county
engineer or supervisor of roads, or by parties owning the
adjoining land or premises, the owner shall be guilty of a
misdemeanor, and, upon conviction thereof, shall be fined not
exceeding one dollar for each day such fence shall remain
untrimmed after the ten days' notice expires.
WVC 19 - 17 - 4
§19-17-4. Partition fence; liability for trespass of animals.
All partition fences shall be lawful fences, unless
otherwise agreed upon by the adjoining owners by a writing
executed in duplicate and duly acknowledge, in which case, if
such fence be kept in good repair, there shall be the same
liability for damages occasioned by trespass of animals owned by
said adjoining owners as if such fence were a lawful fence.
WVC 19 - 17 - 5
§19-17-5. Apportionment of construction and maintenance of
Persons owning adjoining lands, both of which are used for
agricultural, horticultural, grazing or livestock purposes, shall
bear a just proportion of the cost of the constructing, repairing
and maintaining a partition fence between such lands.
WVC 19 - 17 - 6
§19-17-6. Sharing cost of constructed fences.
Where a person has chosen to let his land lie open, if he
shall afterwards enclose or use such land, or portion thereof,
for agricultural, horticultural, grazing or livestock purposes,
he shall refund to the adjoining owner a just proportion of the
value of the partition fence adjoining such lands, or portion
thereof, enclosed or so used that shall have been made by such
adjoining owner, regardless of whether or not such fence at the
time is a lawful fence.
WVC 19 - 17 - 7
§19-17-7. Notice of intention to build or repair partition fence;
Any person desiring to build or to repair a partition fence
may give notice in writing to the owner of any adjoining lands,
or to his agent, of his intention to build or repair such fence
and requiring him to build or repair his just portion thereof,
which notice shall state the description and kind of the fence
proposed to be built or such repairs as are proposed to be made.
The person so served with such notice shall, within ten days
thereafter make answer in writing and serve the same upon the
person desiring to build or repair such fence, which answer shall
state any objections to such notice, and upon failure to do so he
shall be liable to the person building or repairing such
partition fence for his just proportion of the cost thereof if he
shall fail to build or repair his proportion of the same.
WVC 19 - 17 - 8
§19-17-8. Disputes relating to partition fences.
If a dispute arises between the owners of adjoining lands
concerning the proportion or particular part of a fence to be built
or maintained by either of them, or the amount to be paid by one
party to the other for any fence already built or maintained,
either party may proceed by civil action in a magistrate or circuit
court, as shall have jurisdiction of the amount or value in
controversy, within the county in which any portion of the
partition built or to be built, is or is to be located, to
determine the amount to be paid by one party to the other for the
just proportion of the costs of any construction, repair or
maintenance of the partition fence. The person who is required to
share in the cost of the construction, repair or maintenance of the
partition fence shall not be liable for more than one half of the
cost of the construction, repair or maintenance of a fence which
meets the standards of subdivision (e), section one of this
WVC 19 - 17 - 9
Acts, 1993 Reg. Sess., Ch. 57.
WVC 19 - 17 - 10
§19-17-10. Liability of owner for refusal to repair fence.
When each of the adjoining owners of a partition fence has
been allotted a particular part thereof to maintain, and either
owner fails or refuses to keep in good repair the part of such
fence so allotted to him, he shall be liable in damages to the
adjoining owner for all damages occasioned by animals kept by him
trespassing on such adjoining premises as the result of such
failure or refusal to repair. The adjoining owner may serve
written notice on the owner whose duty it is to keep his part of
such fence in repair, requiring him to repair the same, and if
such owner fails or refuses so to do within ten days after the
service of such notice, the adjoining owner may repair such part
of the fence, and the owner whose duty it is to keep the same in
repair shall be liable to him for all the expenses of such
WVC 19 - 17 - 11
§19-17-11. Presumptions as to sufficiency of fence.
In any controversy in which the sufficiency of a fence under
the provisions of this chapter shall come in question, it shall
be presumed that the same was, at the time to which such
controversy relates, a lawful fence and in good condition and
repair, unless the contrary be proven.
Note: WV Code updated with legislation passed through the 2016 Regular Session
The West Virginia Code Online is an unofficial copy of the annotated WV Code, provided as a convenience. It has NOT been edited for publication, and is not in any way official or authoritative.