Code of Virginia

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Code of Virginia
Title 29.1. Wildlife, Inland Fisheries and Boating
Chapter 3. Licenses
6/27/2022

Article 3. Stamps.

§ 29.1-352. Damage stamp program established; purpose; intent.

There is hereby established a damage stamp program to provide for an available source of funds to be used to compensate damage to crops, fruit trees, commercially grown Christmas trees, nursery stock, livestock, colonies of bees, bee equipment and appliances, as defined in § 3.2-4400, or farm equipment that is caused by deer, elk, or bear, or by big game hunters. It is the intent of the General Assembly that persons suffering loss or damage as the result of these activities should be realistically compensated for damages that occurred to their property as the result of the activity. A local governing body shall encourage to the maximum extent possible the utilization of the damage stamp fund for payment of claims in keeping with the purposes of this article.

1981, c. 16, § 29-92.1; 1983, c. 198; 1987, c. 488; 2003, c. 137; 2004, cc. 87, 463.

§ 29.1-353. Local governing body to adopt ordinance.

A. Any local governing body may adopt an ordinance consistent with the provisions of this article for the purpose of establishing a damage stamp program. No such ordinance shall be in force between May 1 of any year and the following April 30 whenever the amount of money in this special fund is more than twice the average annual disbursement made from the fund for the payment of damage claims in the locality during the immediately preceding three years. However, such estoppel shall not apply to any locality during the first three years immediately following the effective date of the first such ordinance adopted by the governing body of that locality pursuant to this or any earlier similar enabling act.

B. Any locality which has adopted an ordinance prior to July 1, 1981, will not be required to adopt a new ordinance; however, any prior ordinance shall be administered pursuant to the provisions of this article.

1981, c. 16, § 29-92.2; 1987, c. 488.

§ 29.1-354. Stamps required; issuance; fee; affixing stamps; cancellation.

It shall be unlawful for any person to hunt bear, deer or elk in any locality adopting a damage stamp ordinance within the Commonwealth without having first obtained the special stamp. A violation of this provision shall be punishable as a Class 3 misdemeanor.

The annual fee for such a stamp shall be $1. The local governing body may prescribe any fee, not to exceed $5 for these special stamps, when issued to nonresidents of the Commonwealth.

The special stamps shall be obtained from a locally designated official or from any agent designated by the Board pursuant to § 29.1-327. The agent shall be paid a fee of $.10 from the special fund for each stamp issued.

The stamp shall be affixed to the reverse side of a current hunting license of each person required to obtain the stamp, and that person shall cancel the stamp with his initials.

1981, c. 16, § 29-92.3; 1987, c. 488; 1989, c. 421; 2003, c. 137.

§ 29.1-355. Disposition of funds.

All moneys received from the sale of the special stamps shall be paid into the local treasury to the credit of a special damage stamp fund and identified by the year in which the moneys were collected. The special fund shall be used for the following purposes:

1. Payment for damages to crops, fruit trees, commercially grown Christmas trees, nursery stock, livestock, colonies of bees, bee equipment and appliances, as defined in § 3.2-4400, or farm equipment that is caused by deer, elk, or bear at any time, or by big game hunters during hunting season; and

2. Payment of the actual and necessary costs of the administration of the provisions of this article, including the printing and distribution of the required stamps and the payment of reasonable fees to persons designated by a local governing body to inspect, evaluate, and confirm reported claims and adjust such claims; and

3. In the discretion of the local governing body, payment of the costs of law enforcement directly related to and incidental to carrying out the provisions of this article and the general game laws of the Commonwealth; any person compensated to engage in such law-enforcement activities shall be approved for such employment by the director and appointed to be a special conservation police officer in accordance with the Board's standards and policies governing such appointment; and

4. In the discretion of the local governing body, administrative expenses related to the special stamps, support of a county volunteer fire prevention and suppression program when the program includes firefighting on big game hunting lands open to the public, and support of local volunteer emergency medical services agencies whose services are available to hunters in distress. However, the money appropriated from the special damage stamp fund for these purposes shall not exceed, in the aggregate, in any calendar year, an amount equal to 25 percent of the amount paid into the special damage stamp fund during the fiscal year or previous calendar year. Once selecting the fiscal year or previous calendar year, the local governing body must continue to use that selected period of time in determining the amount of money to be appropriated from the special damage stamp fund.

1981, c. 16, § 29-92.4; 1983, c. 198; 1985, c. 284; 1986, c. 361; 1987, c. 488; 2003, c. 137; 2004, cc. 87, 463; 2007, c. 87; 2015, cc. 502, 503.

§ 29.1-356. Reporting damages; filing and adjudicating claims.

Any person suffering damage pursuant to the provisions of this article shall report the damage to a locally designated official whose duty it shall be to have the damage investigated. The claim for damage shall be filed under oath and in a manner and form as may be prescribed by the local governing body.

If the claimant and the designated local official agree as to the amount of damage, the local governing body may approve the amount and order payment thereof from the special damage stamp fund established by this article. No claim for damages shall be paid to any person who does not permit the hunting of big game or elk by licensed hunters on his property. However, the fact that a landowner places reasonable restrictions on the number of licensed hunters who are permitted to hunt big game or elk on his property shall not disqualify him from filing a claim for damages pursuant to this section. In the event that no agreement as to the amount of damages can be reached, the claimant may initiate an action in the general district court of the county in which the damage occurred.

1981, c. 16, § 29-92.5; 1987, c. 488; 1988, cc. 375, 385; 2003, c. 137.

§ 29.1-357. Civil action required.

In any instance in which compensable damage is alleged to have been caused by an individual hunter whose whereabouts are known and when it is reasonable and practicable to do so, the claimant shall first proceed against such hunter in a civil action before any payment is made pursuant to the provisions of this article.

Upon payment of any claim pursuant to the provisions of this article, the county shall be subrogated to the rights of the claimant against such individual hunter.

1981, c. 16, § 29-92.6; 1987, c. 488.

§ 29.1-358. Localities to report claims and reimbursements.

Any locality establishing a damage stamp program pursuant to the provisions of this article, including those localities previously authorized to adopt such an ordinance prior to July 1, 1981, shall ensure that annual reports of all damage claims made and the amount of reimbursement therefor are made to the Department.

1981, c. 16, § 29-92.7; 1987, c. 488; 2020, c. 958.