This statute prohibits unlawful hunting in the state of West Virginia. Section 29 effectively serves as the remote hunting ban. It prohibits a person from hunting or conducting hunts for a fee when the person is not physically present in the same location as the wildlife being hunted within West Virginia.
[See Section 29 for Internet hunting provision]
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, trap, injure or pursue with firearms or other implement by which wildlife may be taken after the hour of five o’clock ante meridian on Sunday on private land without the written consent of the landowner any wild animals or wild birds except when a big game season opens on a Monday, the Sunday prior to that opening day will be closed for any taking of wild animals or birds after five o’clock ante meridian on that Sunday: Provided, That traps previously and legally set may be tended after the hour of five o’clock ante meridian on Sunday and the person tending the traps may carry firearms for the purpose of humanely dispatching trapped animals. Any person violating this subdivision is guilty of a misdemeanor and, upon conviction thereof, in addition to any fines that may be imposed by this or other sections of this code, is subject to a $100 fine;
(12) Hunt, catch, take, kill, injure or pursue a wild animal or wild bird with the use of a ferret;
(13) Buy raw furs, pelts or skins of fur-bearing animals unless licensed to do so;
(14) 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;
(15) 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;
(16) 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;
(17) 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;
(18) 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;
(19) Have a bow and gun, or have a gun and any arrow, in the fields or woods at the same time;
(20) 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;
(21) 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;
(22) 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;
(23) Shoot an arrow across any public highway;
(24) 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;
(25) 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;
(26) Hunt, catch, take, kill or attempt to hunt, catch, take or kill any wild animal, wild bird or wild fowl except during open seasons;
(27) Hunting on public lands on Sunday after five o’clock ante meridian is prohibited;
(28) Hunt, catch, take, kill, trap, injure or pursue with firearms or other implement which wildlife can be taken, on private lands on Sunday after the hour of five o’clock ante meridian: Provided, That the provisions of this subdivision do not apply in any county until the county commission of the county holds an election on the question of whether the provisions of this subdivision prohibiting hunting on Sunday shall apply within the county and the voters approve the allowance of hunting on Sunday in the county. The election is determined by a vote of the resident voters of the county in which the hunting on Sunday is proposed to be authorized. The county commission of the county in which Sunday hunting is proposed shall give notice to the public of the election by publication of the notice as a Class II-0 legal advertisement in compliance with the provisions of article three, chapter fifty-nine of this code and the publication area for the publication is the county in which the election is to be held. The date of the last publication of the notice shall fall on a date within the period of the fourteen consecutive days next preceding the election.
On the local option election ballot shall be printed the following:
Shall hunting on Sunday be authorized on private lands only with the consent of the land owner in ______ County?
[ ] Yes
[ ] No
(Place a cross mark in the square opposite your choice.)
Any local option election to approve or disapprove of the proposed authorization of Sunday hunting within a county shall be in accordance with procedures adopted by the commission. The local option election may be held in conjunction with a primary or general election or at a special election. Approval shall be by a majority of the voters casting votes on the question of approval or disapproval of Sunday hunting at the election.
If a majority votes against allowing Sunday hunting, an election on the issue may not be held for a period of one hundred four weeks. If a majority votes “yes”, an election reconsidering the action may not be held for a period of five years. A local option election may thereafter be held if a written petition of qualified voters residing within the county equal to at least five percent of the number of persons who were registered to vote in the next preceding general election is received by the county commission of the county in which Sunday hunting is authorized. The petition may be in any number of counterparts.
The election shall take place at the next primary or general election scheduled more than ninety days following receipt by the county commission of the petition required by this subsection: Provided, That the issue may not be placed on the ballot until all statutory notice requirements have been met. No local law or regulation providing any penalty, disability, restriction, regulation or prohibition of Sunday hunting may be enacted and the provisions of this article preempt all regulations, rules, ordinances and laws of any county or municipality in conflict with this subdivision.
Amendments to this subdivision promulgated during the 2015 regular session of the Legislature shall have no effect upon the results of elections held prior to their enactment; and
(29) 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.
Acts 1929, c. 13, §§ 20, 21, 27, 43, 44, 61-63, 68, 80, 89; Acts 1931, c. 27; Acts 1933, c. 5; Acts 1933, Ex. Sess., c. 43; Acts 1937, c. 37; Acts 1939, c. 64; Acts 1939, c. 65; Acts 1947, c. 96; Acts 1951, c. 98; Acts 1951, c. 102; Acts 1955, c. 73; Acts 1957, c. 90; Acts 1961, c. 133; Acts 1963, c. 131; Acts 1965, c. 112; Acts 1967, c. 129; Acts 1969, c. 89; Acts 1971, c. 108; Acts 1974, c. 81; Acts 1977, c. 137; Acts 1983, c. 109; Acts 1989, c. 136; Acts 1992, c. 103; Acts 1994, c. 121; Acts 1996, c. 195, eff. 90 days after March 9, 1996; Acts 1997, c. 146, eff. 90 days after April 7, 1997; Acts 2001, c. 270, eff. 90 days after April 14, 2001; Acts 2003, c. 167, eff. March 8, 2003; Acts 2004, c. 135, eff. 90 days after March 13, 2004; Acts 2005, c. 126, eff. 90 days after April 9, 2005; Acts 2007, c. 129, eff. June 8, 2007; Acts 2010, 1st Ex. Sess., c. 15, eff. May 16, 2010; Acts 2011, c. 94, eff. June 9, 2011; Acts 2012, c. 91, eff. June 8, 2012; Acts 2015, c. 242, eff. June 12, 2015.