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WEST VIRGINIA CODE

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§20-2-5. Unlawful methods of hunting and fishing and other unlawful acts; Sunday hunting.

NOTE: During the 2017 Regular Session of the Legislature, this section was amended by House Bill 2679 and Senate Bill 345 and there has been no judicial ruling to determine which, if either, amendments prevail. Both versions are provided here.

As amended by House Bill 2679:

(a) Except as authorized by the director or by law, it is unlawful at any time for any person to:

(1) Shoot at any wild bird or wild animal unless it is plainly visible;

(2) Dig out, cut out, smoke out, or in any manner take or attempt to take any live wild animal or wild bird out of its den or place of refuge;

(3) Use or attempt to use any artificial light or any night vision technology, including image intensification, thermal imaging or active illumination while hunting, locating, attracting, taking, trapping or killing any wild bird or wild animal: Provided, That it is lawful to hunt or take coyote, fox, raccoon, opossum or skunk by the use of artificial light or night vision technology. Any person violating this subdivision is guilty of a misdemeanor and, upon conviction thereof, shall for each offense be fined not less than $100 nor more than $500, and shall be confined in jail for not less than ten days nor more than one hundred days;

(4) Hunt, take, kill, wound or shoot at wild animals or wild birds from an airplane or other airborne conveyance, a drone or other unmanned aircraft, an automobile or other land conveyance, or from a motor-driven water conveyance;

(5) Use a drone or other unmanned aircraft to hunt, take or kill a wild bird or wild animal, or to use a drone or other unmanned aircraft to drive or herd any wild bird or wild animal for the purposes of hunting, trapping or killing;

(6) Take any beaver or muskrat by any means other than a trap;

(7) Catch, capture, take, hunt or kill by seine, net, bait, trap or snare or like device a bear, wild turkey, ruffed grouse, pheasant or quail;

(8) Intentionally destroy or attempt to destroy the nest or eggs of any wild bird or have in his or her possession the nest or eggs;

(9) Carry an uncased or loaded firearm in the woods of this state or in state parks, state forests, state wildlife management areas or state rail trails with the following permissible exceptions:

(A) A person in possession of a valid license or permit during open firearms hunting season for wild animals and nonmigratory wild birds where hunting is lawful;

(B) A person hunting or taking unprotected species of wild animals, wild birds and migratory wild birds during the open season, in the open fields, open water and open marshes of the state where hunting is lawful;

(C) A person carrying a firearm pursuant to sections six and six-a of this article;

(D) A person carrying a handgun for self-defense who is not prohibited from possessing firearms under state or federal law; or

(E) A person carrying a rifle or shotgun for self-defense who is not prohibited from possessing firearms under state or federal law: Provided, That this exception does not apply to an uncased rifle or shotgun carried in state park, state forest, or state wildlife management area recreational facilities and on marked trails within state park or state forest borders.

(10) Have in his or her possession a crossbow with a nocked bolt, or a rifle or shotgun with cartridges that have not been removed or a magazine that has not been detached, in or on any vehicle or conveyance, or its attachments. For the purposes of this section, a rifle or shotgun whose magazine readily detaches is considered unloaded if the magazine is detached and no cartridges remain in the rifle or shotgun itself. Except that between five o’clock post meridian of day one and seven o’clock ante meridian, Eastern Standard Time, of the following day, any unloaded firearm or crossbow may be carried only when in a case or taken apart and securely wrapped. During the period from July 1 to September 30, inclusive, of each year, the requirements relative to carrying unloaded firearms are permissible only from eight-thirty o’clock post meridian to five o’clock ante meridian, Eastern Standard Time: Provided, That the time periods for carrying unloaded and uncased firearms are extended for one hour after the post meridian times and one hour before the ante meridian times established in this subdivision, if a person is transporting or transferring the firearms to or from a hunting site, campsite, home or other abode;

(11) Hunt, catch, take, kill, injure or pursue a wild animal or wild bird with the use of a ferret;

(12) Buy raw furs, pelts or skins of fur-bearing animals unless licensed to do so;

(13) Catch, take, kill or attempt to catch, take or kill any fish by any means other than by rod, line and hooks with natural or artificial lures: Provided, That snaring of any species of suckers, carp, fallfish and creek chubs is lawful;

(14) Employ, hire, induce or persuade, with money, things of value or by any means, any person to hunt, take, catch or kill any wild animal or wild bird except those species in which there is no closed season; or to fish for, catch, take or kill any fish, amphibian or aquatic life that is protected by rule, or the sale of which is otherwise prohibited;

(15) Hunt, catch, take, kill, capture, pursue, transport, possess or use any migratory game or nongame birds except as permitted by the Migratory Bird Treaty Act, 16 U. S. C. §703, et seq., and its regulations;

(16) Kill, take, catch, sell, transport or have in his or her possession, living or dead, any wild bird other than a game bird including the plumage, skin or body of any protected bird, irrespective of whether the bird was captured in or out of this state, except the English or European sparrow (Passer domesticus), starling (Sturnus vulgaris) and cowbird (Molothrus ater), which may be killed at any time;

(17) Use dynamite, explosives or any poison in any waters of the state for the purpose of killing or taking fish. Any person violating this subdivision is guilty of a felony and, upon conviction thereof, shall be fined not more than $500 or imprisoned for not less than six months nor more than three years, or both fined and imprisoned;

(18) Have a bow and gun, or have a gun and any arrow, in the fields or woods at the same time;

(19) Have a crossbow in the woods or fields, or use a crossbow to hunt for, take or attempt to take any wildlife except as otherwise provided in sections five-g and forty-two-w of this article;

(20) Take or attempt to take turkey, bear, elk or deer with any arrow unless the arrow is equipped with a point having at least two sharp cutting edges measuring in excess of three fourths of an inch wide;

(21) Take or attempt to take any wildlife with an arrow having an explosive head or shaft, a poisoned arrow or an arrow which would affect wildlife by any chemical action;

(22) Shoot an arrow across any public highway;

(23) Permit any dog owned or under his or her control to chase, pursue or follow the tracks of any wild animal or wild bird, day or night, between May 1 and August 15: Provided, That dogs may be trained on wild animals and wild birds, except deer and wild turkeys, and field trials may be held or conducted on the grounds or lands of the owner, or by his or her bona fide tenant, or upon the grounds or lands of another person with his or her written permission, or on public lands at any time. Nonresidents may not train dogs in this state at any time except during the legal small game hunting season. A person training dogs may not have firearms or other implements in his or her possession during the closed season on wild animals and wild birds;

(24) Conduct or participate in a trial, including a field trial, shoot-to-retrieve field trial, water race or wild hunt: Provided, That any person, group of persons, club or organization may hold a trial upon obtaining a permit pursuant to section fifty-six of this article. The person responsible for obtaining the permit shall prepare and keep an accurate record of the names and addresses of all persons participating in the trial and make the records readily available for inspection by any natural resources police officer upon request;

(25) Hunt, catch, take, kill or attempt to hunt, catch, take or kill any wild animal, wild bird or wild fowl except during open seasons;

(26) Hunt on public lands on Sunday after five o’clock ante meridian;

(27) Hunt or conduct hunts for a fee when the person is not physically present in the same location as the wildlife being hunted within West Virginia.

(28) Catch, take, kill, or attempt to catch, take or kill any fish by any means within two hundred feet of division personnel engaged in stocking fish in public waters.

(b) Notwithstanding any ballot measure relating to Sunday hunting, it is lawful to hunt throughout the State of West Virginia on private lands on Sundays after the hour of five o’clock ante meridian with the written consent of the private landowner pursuant to section seven, article two of this chapter.

As amended by Senate Bill 345

(a) Except as authorized by the director or by law, it is unlawful at any time for any person to:

(1) Shoot at any wild bird or wild animal unless it is plainly visible;

(2) Dig out, cut out, smoke out, or in any manner take or attempt to take any live wild animal or wild bird out of its den or place of refuge;

(3) Use or attempt to use any artificial light or any night vision technology, including image intensification, thermal imaging or active illumination, while hunting, locating, attracting, taking, trapping or killing any wild bird or wild animal: Provided, That it is lawful to hunt or take coyote, fox, raccoon, opossum or skunk by the use of artificial light or night vision technology;

Any person violating this subdivision is guilty of a misdemeanor and, upon conviction thereof, shall for each offense be fined not less than $100 nor more than $500, and shall be confined in jail for not less than ten days nor more than one hundred days;

(4) Hunt, take, kill, wound or shoot at wild animals or wild birds from an airplane or other airborne conveyance, a drone or other unmanned aircraft, an automobile or other land conveyance, or from a motor-driven water conveyance;

(5) Use a drone or other unmanned aircraft to hunt, take or kill a wild bird or wild animal, or to use a drone or other unmanned aircraft to drive or herd any wild bird or wild animal for the purposes of hunting, trapping or killing;

(6) Take any beaver or muskrat by any means other than a trap;

(7) Catch, capture, take, hunt or kill by seine, net, bait, trap or snare or like device a bear, wild turkey, ruffed grouse, pheasant or quail;

(8) Intentionally destroy or attempt to destroy the nest or eggs of any wild bird or have in his or her possession the nest or eggs;

(9) Carry an uncased or loaded firearm in the woods of this state with the following permissible exceptions:

(A) A person in possession of a valid license or permit during open firearms hunting season for wild animals and nonmigratory wild birds;

(B) A person hunting or taking unprotected species of wild animals, wild birds and migratory wild birds during the open season, in the open fields, open water and open marshes of the state;

(C) A person carrying a firearm pursuant to sections six and six-a of this article; or

(D) A person carrying a firearm for self-defense who is not prohibited from possessing firearms by section seven, article seven, chapter sixty-one of this code;

(10) Have in his or her possession a crossbow with a nocked bolt, or a rifle or shotgun with cartridges that have not been removed or a magazine that has not been detached, in or on any vehicle or conveyance, or its attachments. For the purposes of this section, a rifle or shotgun whose magazine readily detaches is considered unloaded if the magazine is detached and no cartridges remain in the rifle or shotgun itself. Except that between five o’clock post meridian of day one and seven o’clock ante meridian, Eastern Standard Time, of the following day, any unloaded firearm or crossbow may be carried only when in a case or taken apart and securely wrapped. During the period from July 1 to September 30, inclusive, of each year, the requirements relative to carrying unloaded firearms are permissible only from eight-thirty o’clock post meridian to five o’clock ante meridian, Eastern Standard Time: Provided, That the time periods for carrying unloaded and uncased firearms are extended for one hour after the post meridian times and one hour before the ante meridian times established in this subdivision, if a person is transporting or transferring the firearms to or from a hunting site, campsite, home or other abode;

(11) Hunt, catch, take, kill, injure or pursue a wild animal or wild bird with the use of a ferret;

(12) Buy raw furs, pelts or skins of fur-bearing animals unless licensed to do so;

(13) Catch, take, kill or attempt to catch, take or kill any fish by any means other than by rod, line and hooks with natural or artificial lures: Provided, That snaring of any species of suckers, carp, fallfish and creek chubs is lawful;

(14) Employ, hire, induce or persuade, with money, things of value or by any means, any person to hunt, take, catch or kill any wild animal or wild bird except those species in which there is no closed season; or to fish for, catch, take or kill any fish, amphibian or aquatic life that is protected by rule, or the sale of which is otherwise prohibited;

(15) Hunt, catch, take, kill, capture, pursue, transport, possess or use any migratory game or nongame birds except as permitted by the Migratory Bird Treaty Act, 16 U. S. C. §703, et seq., and its regulations;

(16) Kill, take, catch, sell, transport or have in his or her possession, living or dead, any wild bird other than a game bird including the plumage, skin or body of any protected bird, irrespective of whether the bird was captured in or out of this state, except the English or European sparrow (Passer domesticus), starling (Sturnus vulgaris) and cowbird (Molothrus ater), which may be killed at any time;

(17) Use dynamite, explosives or any poison in any waters of the state for the purpose of killing or taking fish. Any person violating this subdivision is guilty of a felony and, upon conviction thereof, shall be fined not more than $500 or imprisoned for not less than six months nor more than three years, or both fined and imprisoned;

(18) Have a bow and gun, or have a gun and any arrow, in the fields or woods at the same time;

(19) Have a crossbow in the woods or fields, or use a crossbow to hunt for, take or attempt to take any wildlife except as otherwise provided in sections five-g and forty-two-w of this article;

(20) Take or attempt to take turkey, bear, elk or deer with any arrow unless the arrow is equipped with a point having at least two sharp cutting edges measuring in excess of three fourths of an inch wide;

(21) Take or attempt to take any wildlife with an arrow having an explosive head or shaft, a poisoned arrow or an arrow which would affect wildlife by any chemical action;

(22) Shoot an arrow across any public highway;

(23) Permit any dog owned or under his or her control to chase, pursue or follow the tracks of any wild animal or wild bird, day or night, between May 1 and August 15: Provided, That dogs may be trained on wild animals and wild birds, except deer and wild turkeys, and field trials may be held or conducted on the grounds or lands of the owner, or by his or her bona fide tenant, or upon the grounds or lands of another person with his or her written permission, or on public lands at any time. Nonresidents may not train dogs in this state at any time except during the legal small game hunting season. A person training dogs may not have firearms or other implements in his or her possession during the closed season on wild animals and wild birds;

(24) Conduct or participate in a trial, including a field trial, shoot-to-retrieve field trial, water race or wild hunt: Provided, That any person, group of persons, club or organization may hold a trial upon obtaining a permit pursuant to section fifty-six of this article. The person responsible for obtaining the permit shall prepare and keep an accurate record of the names and addresses of all persons participating in the trial and make the records readily available for inspection by any natural resources police officer upon request;

(25) Hunt, catch, take, kill or attempt to hunt, catch, take or kill any wild animal, wild bird or wild fowl except during open seasons;

(26) Hunt on public lands on Sunday after five o’clock ante meridian; and (27) Hunt or conduct hunts for a fee when the person is not physically present in the same location as the wildlife being hunted within West Virginia.

 (b) Notwithstanding any ballot measure relating to Sunday hunting, it is lawful to hunt throughout the State of West Virginia on private lands on Sundays after the hour of five o’clock ante meridian with the written consent of the private landowner pursuant to section seven, article two of this chapter.

Note: WV Code updated with legislation passed through the 2017 Regular Session
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