WVC 34 -
CHAPTER 34. ESTRAYS, DRIFT AND DERELICT PROPERTY.
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ARTICLE 1. ESTRAYS AND DRIFT PROPERTY.
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§34-1-1. Taking up estray or boat.
Any person may take up an estray found on his land, or a
boat or vessel adrift. He shall immediately post notices at
three public places in the district wherein the property is so
found, giving a description of the property and stating when the
same was so taken up; and if the owner of such property shall not
appear and claim the same within two weeks from the posting of
such notice, then the person so taking such property up shall
cause a like notice to be published 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 where the property was taken
up. In either case the owner may have possession of such
property upon paying the costs of such posting and publishing of
such notice and of keeping the property; and if the owner shall
not appear and claim such property within three weeks from the
date of the first publication of such notice in a newspaper, the
person taking the same up shall immediately inform a justice of
the district thereof, who shall issue his warrant to three
freeholders, requiring them under oath to view and appraise such
estray, or boat or vessel, and certify the result, with a
description of the kind, marks, brand, stature, color and age of
the animal, or kind, burden and build of the boat or vessel.
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§34-1-2. Recordation and posting of certificate.
Such freeholders shall return their certificate, with the
warrant, to the clerk of the county court of the county, who
shall record the same in a book kept for that purpose, and post a
copy thereof at the door of the courthouse of the county within
one week after his receipt of such certificate.
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§34-1-3. Effect of failure of owner to claim.
If the owner of such property shall not have appeared within
thirty days after such copy has been so posted, and the valuation
thereof be under fifteen dollars, or if such valuation be as much
as fifteen dollars, and the owner shall not have appeared after
such certificate has been published as aforesaid, and also three
times in some newspaper such as is mentioned in section one of
this article, it shall belong in either case to the owner of the
land on which it was so taken, if an estray, or to the person
taking it up, in the case of a boat or vessel.
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§34-1-4. Rights of owner.
The former owner may, at any time after, recover the
valuation money, except the amount of the clerk's and printer's
fees, and the fees of the justice and freeholders for the service
mentioned in section one of this article and in this section, and
such compensation for keeping the property down to the time when
it became the property of the person so taking it up, as shall be
certified under oath by any two freeholders in the county where
the property was valued.
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§34-1-5. Liability for death or loss.
If such estray die, or any such property be lost to such
owner of the land or person taking it up, without his fault, he
shall not be liable for the same or its valuation.
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§34-1-6. Drift property -- Rights of person taking up.
When any property, not mentioned in section one of this
article, is drifted on any waters of this state, and taken up by
any person, or deposited and left on the lands of any person,
other than the owner of such property, the person taking it up,
or the owner of such land, shall, as against all persons other
than the owner of such property, be deemed and treated, and have
the same rights and remedies relating thereto, as such owner
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§34-1-7. Same -- Rights of owner.
The owner of such property, after he shall have paid to the
person taking it up, or to the owner of such land, a just
compensation for any proper care, labor, or expense bestowed,
done, or incurred by him about such property, but not before, may
enter upon such land for the purpose, and, doing as little injury
as possible thereto, may remove such property, but shall pay to
the owner of such land any damages to him occasioned by such
entry and removal.
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§34-1-8. Same -- Sale or use.
If the owner of such property as is mentioned in section six
of this article shall not, within three months from the time the
same was so taken up or deposited, remove or demand from the
person taking it up, or the owner of such land, such property,
the person taking it up or the owner of such land may sell such
property, or otherwise convert the same to his own use; but
deducting a just compensation for any proper care, labor or
expense bestowed, done, or incurred by the person taking it up or
the owner of such land about such property, from the amount
received by him as the price thereof, or the actual value
thereof, at the time of such sale or other conversion, he shall
pay to the owner, if he shall elect to receive it, the residue of
the amount received as such price, or otherwise the residue of
such actual value. The owner of such property, after he shall
have demanded such residue, and proved by the affidavit of some
other person, or otherwise by a competent witness, his right
thereto, or offered to prove such right, and the owner of such
land shall have refused or declined to inspect or hear the
evidence thereof, but not before, may recover such residue of
such amount received as such price as money received for his use,
or the residue of such actual value as the price of goods sold by
the owner of such property to the owner of such land, or as the
value of goods of the owner of such property found by the owner
of such land, and converted by him to his own use.
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§34-1-9. Liability for false claim; acts intended to hinder or
delay owner in reclaiming property.
If any person shall falsely or fraudulently procure a
warrant to be issued by a justice, under section one of this
chapter, for the appraisement of anything as an estray or drift
property which is not such; or shall secrete any such estray or
property, or alter or change the appearance thereof, or the marks
thereon, with intent to hinder or delay the owner thereof in
reclaiming the same, or to render the identification of such
estray or property difficult, he shall be guilty of a
misdemeanor, and, on conviction thereof, be fined not less than
ten, nor more than five hundred dollars; and shall, moreover, be
liable to the owner for double the value of such estray or
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§34-1-10. Proof of ownership.
In any action, suit, prosecution or controversy about any
property mentioned in this article, the person claiming to be the
owner thereof must prove his ownership thereof, in order to
sustain his claim to be such owner, as against the person taking
up such property, or on whose land it was deposited.
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§34-1-11. Taking up timber adrift in certain rivers;
Every person who shall take up and secure any saw logs, or
other logs or ties, prepared for the purpose of sale, or any
cross or railroad ties, boards, planks, staves, heading or other
timber prepared for market, of another, found adrift in the Ohio,
Great Kanawha, Little Kanawha or Big Sandy rivers, in which there
is no boom in use for the preservation thereof below the point
where they are so found, whether the same have thereon any such
trademark or not, shall be entitled to receive from the owner
thereof a compensation for so much thereof as he shall deliver to
such owner, as follows: (a) For each saw log or other log or tree
prepared for sale which is not more than thirty inches in
diameter, twenty-five cents; and for all others, fifty cents
each, except that the price for catching and securing oak logs
that are not less than eighteen inches in diameter at the top,
and are fifty feet or more in length, may be an amount not to
exceed the sum of seventy-five cents each. If the same be caught
in rafts or parts of rafts, ten cents per log; (b) for each cross
or railroad tie, six cents. If the same be caught in rafts or
parts of rafts containing two hundred ties or less, two cents per
tie; and if caught in lots of over two hundred, one cent per tie;
(c) for boards or plank, if caught in rafts or large bodies,
fifty cents per thousand feet board measure, for twenty thousand
feet or less quantity; and for over twenty thousand feet, twenty-five cents per thousand feet board measure. But if the same be
not in rafts but loose and scattered, two dollars and fifty cents per thousand feet board measure; (d) for staves and heading,
three dollars per thousand for all such as are marketable. Such
sums shall be paid by the owner thereof, if required, before the
delivery of the same to him. If the owner of any such log,
trees, ties, boards, plank, staves or hearing fail to pay the sum
so chargeable thereon within forty days from the date they are
taken up, they may be sold at the instance of the person to whom
such charges are due by a constable or the sheriff of the county
at public auction to the highest bidder, upon thirty days' notice
posted at the front door of the courthouse of the county in which
the sale is to be made, and at the place of the sale thereof.
The officer making such sale shall, from the proceeds thereof,
pay, to the person who took up such logs, trees, ties, boards,
plank, staves or heading, the sum to which he is entitled
therefor as aforesaid and retain the balance, after deducting his
commissions, which shall be the same as upon sales under
executions, for the use of the owners. But if no person shall
appear and establish his rights to such proceeds within one year
after such sale, he shall place the same to the credit of the
distributable school fund of his county and report the amount
thereof to the county superintendent of schools therein.
Note: WV Code updated with legislation passed through the 2012 1st Special Session