Code of Virginia

Code of Virginia
Title 29.1. Game, Inland Fisheries and Boating

Article 1. General Provisions.

§ 29.1-500. Reserved.


§ 29.1-501. Promulgation of regulations; publication of proposed regulations or change therein; validation; evidentiary nature of publication.

A. The Board may promulgate regulations pertaining to the hunting, taking, capture, killing, possession, sale, purchase, and transportation of any wild bird, wild animal, or inland water fish, and the feeding of any game, game animals, or fur-bearing animals as defined in § 29.1-100, or the feeding of any wildlife that results in property damage, endangers any person or wildlife, or creates a public health concern.

B. The full text or an informative summary of any proposed regulation or change in the regulations shall be published not less than fifteen nor more than thirty days before it may be acted upon. The publication shall name the time and place that the specified matters will be taken up, at which time any interested citizen shall be heard. If the proposed regulation or change in the regulations is of local application, the publication shall appear in a newspaper published in or within reasonable proximity to the affected locality. However, if the proposed regulation or change in the regulations is of statewide application, the publication shall be made in a sufficient number of newspapers having a general circulation throughout the entire Commonwealth.

C. A copy of proposed regulations or a change in the regulations, of either local application or statewide application, shall be published in the Virginia Register of Regulations pursuant to § 2.2-4031.

D. Prima facie evidence of any regulation may be given in all courts and proceedings by the production of a copy of the regulation, which shall be certified by the Director or his deputy.

Code 1950, § 29-126; 1956, c. 178; 1960, c. 539; 1962, c. 478; 1974, c. 56; 1987, c. 488; 2010, c. 184.

§ 29.1-502. Adoption of regulations.

The board may adopt regulations and amendments to regulations upon completion of all applicable hearing and notice requirements. The Board shall file the regulations with the Registrar of Regulations pursuant to § 2.2-4103.

Code 1950, § 29-127; 1974, c. 56; 1979, c. 264; 1987, c. 488.

§ 29.1-503. Repealed.

Repealed by Acts 1996, c. 9.

§ 29.1-504. Annual publication of laws and regulations.

All laws relating to hunting, fishing and trapping, together with the regulations of the Board, of both general and local application, shall be published annually by the Department in a handbook or pamphlet. The courts of the Commonwealth shall take judicial notice of all laws and regulations contained in such publication.

1952, c. 608, § 29-128.1; 1979, c. 264; 1987, c. 488.

§ 29.1-505. Penalty for violation of regulations.

It shall be a misdemeanor to violate any regulation promulgated pursuant to this title. Any person violating such a regulation shall be guilty of a Class 3 misdemeanor unless another penalty is specified.

Code 1950, § 29-129; 1987, c. 488; 1988, c. 19.

§ 29.1-505.1. Conspiracy; penalty.

If any person conspires with another to commit any offense defined in this title or any of the regulations of the Board of Game and Inland Fisheries, and one or more such persons does any act to effect the object of the conspiracy, he shall be guilty of conspiracy to commit the underlying offense and shall be subject to the same punishment prescribed for the offense the commission of which was the object of the conspiracy.

1989, c. 362.

§ 29.1-506. Prescribing seasons and bag limits for taking fish and game.

After careful study of each species of wild bird, animal and fish within the jurisdiction of the Board in cities and counties of the Commonwealth, the Board shall have the power to prescribe the seasons and bag limits for hunting, fishing, trapping or otherwise taking such wild birds, animals and fish by regulation adopted as provided in this article.

Code 1950, § 29-129.1; 1950, p. 411; 1952, c. 619; 1960, c. 537; 1970, c. 239; 1987, c. 488.

§ 29.1-507. Closing or shortening open season.

The Board may close or shorten the open season in any county or city (i) whenever extreme weather threatens the welfare of wild birds, wild animals or fish; (ii) whenever such wild birds, wild animals or fish have been seriously affected by adverse weather conditions; (iii) when investigation of the Board shows that there is an unusual scarcity of any species or; (iv) when there is substantial demand from any county or city. The Board shall immediately give notice of any closing or shortening of an open season by publishing the announcement in one or more newspapers having a general circulation in the county or city affected. The notice shall be published at least three days before the action becomes effective.

Code 1950, § 29-130; 1987, c. 488.

§ 29.1-508. Board to prescribe seasons, bag limits and methods of taking and killing fish and game on lands and waters owned or controlled by Board.

The Board is hereby authorized to adopt rules and regulations to prescribe and enforce the seasons, bag limits and methods of taking fish and game on lands and waters owned by the Board and on lands owned by others but controlled by the Board.

1960, c. 538, § 29-130.1; 1987, c. 488.

§ 29.1-508.1. Use of drugs on vertebrate wildlife.

A. Without written authorization from the Director or his designee, it is unlawful to administer any drug to any vertebrate wildlife, except in accordance with a permit issued under the provisions of this title or regulations adopted by the Board. This prohibition shall include, but not be limited to, drugs used for fertility control, disease prevention or treatment, immobilization, or growth stimulation. Nothing in this section shall prohibit the treatment of sick or injured wild animals by licensed veterinarians or permitted wildlife rehabilitators. This section shall not limit employees of agencies of the Commonwealth, the United States, or local animal control officers in the performance of their official duties related to public health, wildlife management, or wildlife removal. For the purposes of this section, the term "drug" means any chemical substance, other than food, that affects the structure or biological function of wildlife species.

B. The Department may take possession and dispose of any vertebrate wildlife if it believes that drugs have been administered to such wildlife in violation of this section.

C. Any person violating this section is guilty of a Class 2 misdemeanor.

2004, c. 171.

§ 29.1-509. Duty of care and liability for damages of landowners to hunters, fishermen, sightseers, etc.

A. For the purpose of this section:

"Fee" means any payment or payments of money to a landowner for use of the premises or in order to engage in any activity described in subsections B and C, but does not include license fees, insurance fees, handling fees, transaction fees, administrative fees, rentals or similar fees received by a landowner from governmental, not-for-profit, or private sources, or payments received by a landowner for rights of ingress and egress or from incidental sales of forest products to an individual for his personal use, or any action taken by another to improve the land or access to the land for the purposes set forth in subsections B and C or remedying damage caused by such uses.

"Land" or "premises" means real property or right-of-way, whether rural or urban, waters, boats, private ways, natural growth, trees, railroad property, railroad right-of-way, utility corridor, and any building or structure which might be located on such real property, waters, boats, private ways and natural growth.

"Landowner" means the legal title holder, any easement holder, lessee, occupant or any other person in control of land or premises, including railroad rights-of-way.

"Low-head dam" means a dam that is built across a river or stream for the purpose of impounding water where the impoundment, at normal flow levels, is completely within the banks, and all flow passes directly over the entire dam structure within the banks, excluding abutments, to a natural channel downstream.

B. A landowner shall owe no duty of care to keep land or premises safe for entry or use by others for hunting, fishing, trapping, camping, participation in water sports, boating, hiking, rock climbing, sightseeing, hang gliding, skydiving, horseback riding, foxhunting, racing, bicycle riding or collecting, gathering, cutting or removing firewood, for any other recreational use, for ingress and egress over such premises to permit passage to other property used for recreational purposes or for use of an easement granted to the Commonwealth or any agency thereof or any not-for-profit organization granted tax-exempt status under § 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code to permit public passage across such land for access to a public park, historic site, or other public recreational area. No landowner shall be required to give any warning of hazardous conditions or uses of, structures on, or activities on such land or premises to any person entering on the land or premises for such purposes, except as provided in subsection D. The provisions of this subsection apply without regard to whether the landowner has given permission to a person to use their land for recreational purposes.

C. Any landowner who gives permission, express or implied, to another person to hunt, fish, launch and retrieve boats, swim, ride, foxhunt, trap, camp, hike, bicycle, rock climb, hang glide, skydive, sightsee, engage in races, to collect, gather, cut or remove forest products upon land or premises for the personal use of such person, or for the use of an easement or license as set forth in subsection B does not thereby:

1. Impliedly or expressly represent that the premises are safe for such purposes; or

2. Constitute the person to whom such permission has been granted an invitee or licensee to whom a duty of care is owed; or

3. Assume responsibility for or incur liability for any intentional or negligent acts of such person or any other person, except as provided in subsection D.

D. Nothing contained in this section, except as provided in subsection E, shall limit the liability of a landowner which may otherwise arise or exist by reason of his gross negligence or willful or malicious failure to guard or warn against a dangerous condition, use, structure, or activity. The provisions of this section shall not limit the liability of a landowner which may otherwise arise or exist when the landowner receives a fee for use of the premises or to engage in any activity described in subsections B and C. Nothing contained in this section shall relieve any sponsor or operator of any sporting event or competition including but not limited to a race or triathlon of the duty to exercise ordinary care in such events. Nothing contained in this section shall limit the liability of an owner of a low-head dam who fails to implement safety measures described in subsection F.

E. For purposes of this section, whenever any landowner has entered into an agreement with, or grants an easement or license to, the Commonwealth or any agency thereof, any locality, any not-for-profit organization granted tax-exempt status under § 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code, or any local or regional authority created by law for public park, historic site, or recreational purposes, concerning the use of, or access over, his land by the public for any of the purposes enumerated in subsections B and C, such landowner shall be immune from liability to any member of the public arising out of such member's use of such land for any such purpose, and the government, agency locality, not-for-profit organization, or authority with which the agreement is made shall indemnify and hold the landowner harmless from all liability and be responsible for providing, or for paying the cost of, all reasonable legal services required by any person entitled to the benefit of this section as the result of a claim or suit attempting to impose liability. Any action against the Commonwealth, or any agency thereof, shall be subject to the provisions of the Virginia Tort Claims Act (§ 8.01-195.1 et seq.). Any provisions in a lease or other agreement which purports to waive the benefits of this section shall be invalid, and any action against any county, city, town, or local or regional authority shall be subject to the provisions of § 15.2-1809, where applicable.

F. Any owner of a low-head dam may mark the areas above and below the dam and on the banks immediately adjacent to the dam with signs and buoys of a design and content, in accordance with the regulations of the Board, to warn the swimming, fishing, and boating public of the hazards posed by the dam. Any owner of a low-head dam who marks a low-head dam in accordance with this subsection shall be deemed to have met the duty of care for warning the public of the hazards posed by the dam. Any owner of a low-head dam who fails to mark a low-head dam in accordance with this subsection shall be presumed not to have met the duty of care for warning the public of the hazards posed by the dam.

Code 1950, §§ 8-654.2, 29-130.2; 1962, c. 545; 1964, c. 435; 1977, c. 624; 1979, c. 276; 1980, c. 560; 1982, c. 29; 1983, c. 283; 1987, c. 488; 1988, c. 191; 1989, cc. 26, 500, 505; 1990, cc. 799, 808; 1991, c. 305; 1992, c. 285; 1994, c. 544; 2007, c. 664; 2010, c. 43; 2017, c. 366.

The chapters of the acts of assembly referenced in the historical citation at the end of these sections may not constitute a comprehensive list of such chapters and may exclude chapters whose provisions have expired.

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