(1) Pursuant to this section, the director or the director's designee may distribute money appropriated to pay claims for damages to crops caused by wild deer or elk in an amount of up to ten thousand dollars per claim. Damages payable under this section are limited to the value of such commercially raised horticultural or agricultural crops, whether growing or harvested, and shall be paid only to the owner of the crop at the time of damage, without assignment. Damages shall not include damage to other real or personal property including other vegetation or animals, damages caused by animals other than wild deer or elk, lost profits, consequential damages, or any other damages whatsoever. These damages shall comprise the exclusive remedy for claims against the state for damages caused by wildlife.
(2) The director may adopt rules for the form of affidavits or proof to be provided in claims under this section. The director may adopt rules to specify the time and method of assessing damage. The burden of proving damages shall be on the claimant. Payment of claims shall remain subject to the other conditions and limits of this chapter.
(3) If funds are limited, payments of claims shall be prioritized in the order that the claims are received. No claim may be processed if:
(a) The claimant did not notify the department within ten days of discovery of the damage. If the claimant intends to take steps that prevent determination of damages, such as harvest of damaged crops, then the claimant shall notify the department as soon as reasonably possible after discovery so that the department has an opportunity to document the damage and take steps to prevent additional damage; or
(b) The claimant did not present a complete, written claim within sixty days after the damage, or the last day of damaging if the damage was of a continuing nature.
(4) The director or the director's designee may examine and assess the damage upon notice. The department and claimant may agree to an assessment of damages by a neutral person or persons knowledgeable in horticultural or agricultural practices. The department and claimant shall share equally in the costs of such third party examination and assessment of damage.
(5) There shall be no payment for damages if:
(a) The crops are on lands leased from any public agency;
(b) The landowner or claimant failed to use or maintain applicable damage prevention materials or methods furnished by the department, or failed to comply with a wildlife damage prevention agreement under RCW 77.12.260;
(c) The director has expended all funds appropriated for payment of such claims for the current fiscal year; or
(d) The damages are covered by insurance. The claimant shall notify the department at the time of claim of insurance coverage in the manner required by the director. Insurance coverage shall cover all damages prior to any payment under this chapter.
(6) When there is a determination of claim by the director or the director's designee pursuant to this section, the claimant has sixty days to accept the claim or it is deemed rejected. [1996 c 54 § 5.]
WAC 232-12-423 Public hunting defined and access contracts. "Public hunting" generally means that land is open to hunting for all licensed hunters.
(1) For the purpose of defining the term "public hunting" for payment of crop damage in RCW 77.36.060, "public hunting" has been allowed by the landowner when:
(a) The landowner opens the property on which the damage is claimed under RCW 77.36.040, for general access to all licensed hunters; or
(b) The landowner had entered into and complied with an access contract with the department covering the land(s) on which the damage is claimed under RCW 77.36.040, for the hunting season prior to the occurrence of the damage.
(2) Access contracts shall require that:
(a) The land is open to general access to all licensed hunters; or
(b) The landowner allows the department to select the hunters who are authorized to access the land; or
(c) The landowner and the department share selection of the hunters authorized to hunt on the landowner's land consistent with applicable commission policy or rule.
[Statutory Authority: RCW 77.12.047. 06-04-065 (Order 06-12), § 232-12-423, filed 1/30/06, effective 3/2/06.]