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A List of Relevant Laws

Washington State has laws which pertain to all hunters, hunter behavior, and issues which affect hunters.  Here are some laws on the books which are not necessarily spelled out in the hunting regulations. Feel free to submit your own nomination for notable Laws. Submit information (tips, area suggestions, etc)

Hunter Harassment   Hunter Behavior  WDFW Powers  Landowner Laws

Hunter Harassment

77.15.210      Obstructing the taking of fish, shellfish, or wildlife Penalty.

(1) A person is guilty of obstructing the taking of fish[, shellfish,] or wildlife if the person:

     (a) Harasses, drives, or disturbs fish, shellfish, or wildlife with the intent of disrupting lawful pursuit or taking thereof; or

     (b) Harasses, intimidates, or interferes with an individual engaged in the lawful taking of fish, shellfish, or wildlife or lawful predator control with the intent of disrupting lawful pursuit or taking thereof.

     (2) Obstructing the taking of fish, shellfish, or wildlife is a gross misdemeanor.

     (3) It is an affirmative defense to a prosecution for obstructing the taking of fish, shellfish, or wildlife that the person charged was:

     (a) Interfering with a person engaged in hunting outside the legally established hunting season; or

     (b) Preventing or attempting to prevent unauthorized trespass on private property.

     (4) The person raising a defense under subsection (3) of this section has the burden of proof by a preponderance of the evidence.
[2001 c 253 30; 1998 c 190 24.]


77.15.212    Damages due to violation of RCW 77.15.210 Civil action.

Any person who is damaged by any act prohibited in RCW 77.15.210 may bring a civil action to enjoin further violations, and recover damages sustained, including a reasonable attorneys' fee. The trial court may increase the award of damages to an amount not to exceed three times the damages sustained. A party seeking civil damages under this section may recover upon proof of a violation by a preponderance of the evidence. The state of Washington may bring a civil action to enjoin violations of this section. [2000 c 107 238.]


77.15.220     Unlawful posting Penalty.

(1) A person is guilty of unlawful posting if the individual posts signs preventing hunting or fishing on any land not owned or leased by the individual, or without the permission of the person who owns, leases, or controls the land posted.

     (2) Unlawful posting is a misdemeanor.
[1998 c 190 25.]


Hunter Behavior

77.15.030  Individual animal unlawfully taken Separate offense.

Where it is unlawful to hunt, take, fish, possess, or traffic in big game or protected or endangered fish or wildlife, then each individual animal unlawfully taken or possessed is a separate offense.

[1999 c 258 1; 1998 c 190 4.]


77.15.470     Wildlife check stations or field inspections Unlawful avoidance Penalty.

(1) A person is guilty of unlawfully avoiding wildlife check stations or field inspections if the person fails to:

     (a) Obey check station signs;

     (b) Stop and report at a check station if directed to do so by a uniformed fish and wildlife officer; or

     (c) Produce for inspection upon request by a fish and wildlife officer: (i) Hunting or fishing equipment; (ii) seaweed, fish, shellfish, or wildlife; or (iii) licenses, permits, tags, stamps, or catch record cards required by this title.

     (2) Unlawfully avoiding wildlife check stations or field inspections is a gross misdemeanor.

     (3) Wildlife check stations may not be established upon interstate highways or state routes.

[2000 c 107 246; 1998 c 190 29.]


77.15.675    Hunting while intoxicated Penalty.

(1) A person is guilty of hunting while under the influence of intoxicating liquor or drugs if the person hunts wild animals or wild birds while under the influence of intoxicating liquor or drugs.

     (2) Hunting while under the influence of intoxicating liquor or drugs is a gross misdemeanor.

[1999 c 258 12; 1980 c 78 75; 1955 c 36 77.16.070. Prior: 1947 c 275 45a; Rem. Supp. 1947 5992-55. Formerly RCW 77.16.070.]

Notes:  Effective date -- Intent, construction -- Savings -- Severability -- 1980 c 78: See notes following RCW 77.04.010

RCW 9.41.042  Children Permissible firearm possession.

RCW 9.41.040(2)(a)(iii) shall not apply to any person under the age of eighteen years who is:

(1) In attendance at a hunter's safety course or a firearms safety course;

(2) Engaging in practice in the use of a firearm or target shooting at an established range authorized by the governing body of the jurisdiction in which such range is located or any other area where the discharge of a firearm is not prohibited;

(3) Engaging in an organized competition involving the use of a firearm, or participating in or practicing for a performance by an organized group that uses firearms as a part of the performance;

(4) Hunting or trapping under a valid license issued to the person under Title 77 RCW;

(5) In an area where the discharge of a firearm is permitted, is not trespassing, and the person either: (a) Is at least fourteen years of age, has been issued a hunter safety certificate, and is using a lawful firearm other than a pistol; or (b) is under the supervision of a parent, guardian, or other adult approved for the purpose by the parent or guardian;

(6) Traveling with any unloaded firearm in the person's possession to or from any activity described in subsection (1), (2), (3), (4), or (5) of this section;

(7) On real property under the control of his or her parent, other relative, or legal guardian and who has the permission of the parent or legal guardian to possess a firearm;

(8) At his or her residence and who, with the permission of his or her parent or legal guardian, possesses a firearm for the purpose of exercising the rights specified in RCW 9A.16.020(3); or

(9) Is a member of the armed forces of the United States, national guard, or organized reserves, when on duty.


RCW 9.41.010 concerning the definition of a "loaded" firearm

(9) "Loaded" means:

(a) There is a cartridge in the chamber of the firearm;

(b) Cartridges are in a clip that is locked in place in thefirearm;

(c) There is a cartridge in the cylinder of the firearm, if thefirearm is a revolver;

(d) There is a cartridge in the tube or magazine that isinserted in the action; or

(e) There is a ball in the barrel and the firearm is capped or primed if the firearm is a muzzle loader.

RCW 9.41.230 Aiming or discharging firearms, dangerous weapons.

(1) For conduct not amounting to a violation of chapter 9A.36 RCW, any person who:

(a) Aims any firearm, whether loaded or not, at or towards any human being;

(b) Willfully discharges any firearm, air gun, or other weapon, or throws any deadly missile in a public place, or in any place where any person might be endangered thereby. A public place shall not include any location at which firearms are authorized to be lawfully discharged; or

(c) Except as provided in RCW 9.41.185, sets a so-called trap, spring pistol, rifle, or other dangerous weapon, although no injury results, is guilty of a gross misdemeanor punishable under chapter 9A.20 RCW.

(2) If an injury results from a violation of subsection (1) of this section, the person violating subsection (1) of this section shall be subject to the applicable provisions of chapters 9A.32 and 9A.36

WDFW Powers

77.15.070    Civil forfeiture of property used for violation of chapter.

(1) Fish and wildlife officers and ex officio fish and wildlife officers may seize without warrant boats, airplanes, vehicles, motorized implements, conveyances, gear, appliances, or other articles they have probable cause to believe have been held with intent to violate or used in violation of this title or rule of the commission or director. However, fish and wildlife officers or ex officio fish and wildlife officers may not seize any item or article, other than for evidence, if under the circumstances, it is reasonable to conclude that the violation was inadvertent. The property seized is subject to forfeiture to the state under this section regardless of ownership. Property seized may be recovered by its owner by depositing with the department or into court a cash bond or equivalent security equal to the value of the seized property but not more than one hundred thousand dollars. Such cash bond or security is subject to forfeiture in lieu of the property. Forfeiture of property seized under this section is a civil forfeiture against property and is intended to be a remedial civil sanction.

     (2) In the event of a seizure of property under this section, jurisdiction to begin the forfeiture proceedings shall commence upon seizure. Within fifteen days following the seizure, the seizing authority shall serve a written notice of intent to forfeit property on the owner of the property seized and on any person having any known right or interest in the property seized. Notice may be served by any method authorized by law or court rule, including service by certified mail with return receipt requested. Service by mail is deemed complete upon mailing within the fifteen-day period following the seizure.

     (3) Persons claiming a right of ownership or right to possession of property are entitled to a hearing to contest forfeiture. Such a claim shall specify the claim of ownership or possession and shall be made in writing and served on the director within forty-five days of the seizure. If the seizing authority has complied with notice requirements and there is no claim made within forty-five days, then the property shall be forfeited to the state.

     (4) If any person timely serves the director with a claim to property, the person shall be afforded an opportunity to be heard as to the person's claim or right. The hearing shall be before the director or director's designee, or before an administrative law judge appointed under chapter 34.12 RCW, except that a person asserting a claim or right may remove the matter to a court of competent jurisdiction if the aggregate value of the property seized is more than five thousand dollars. The department may settle a person's claim of ownership prior to the administrative hearing.

     (5) The hearing to contest forfeiture and any subsequent appeal shall be as provided for in chapter 34.05 RCW, the administrative procedure act. The seizing authority has the burden to demonstrate that it had reason to believe the property was held with intent to violate or was used in violation of this title or rule of the commission or director. The person contesting forfeiture has the burden of production and proof by a preponderance of evidence that the person owns or has a right to possess the property and:

     (a) That the property was not held with intent to violate or used in violation of this title; or

     (b) If the property is a boat, airplane, or vehicle, that the illegal use or planned illegal use of the boat, airplane, or vehicle occurred without the owner's knowledge or consent, and that the owner acted reasonably to prevent illegal uses of such boat, airplane, or vehicle.

     (6) A forfeiture of a conveyance encumbered by a perfected security interest is subject to the interest of the secured party if the secured party neither had knowledge of nor consented to the act or omission. No security interest in seized property may be perfected after seizure.

     (7) If seized property is forfeited under this section the department may retain it for official use unless the property is required to be destroyed, or upon application by any law enforcement agency of the state, release such property to the agency for the use of enforcing this title, or sell such property, and deposit the proceeds to the fish and wildlife enforcement reward account created in RCW
77.15.425[2005 c 406 2; 2000 c 107 231; 1998 c 190 69.]


77.15.075   Enforcement authority of fish and wildlife officers.

(1) Fish and wildlife officers and ex officio fish and wildlife officers shall enforce this title, rules of the department, and other statutes as prescribed by the legislature. Fish and wildlife officers who are not ex officio officers shall have and exercise, throughout the state, such police powers and duties as are vested in sheriffs and peace officers generally. An applicant for a fish and wildlife officer position must be a citizen of the United States of America who can read and write the English language. All fish and wildlife officers employed after June 13, 2002, must successfully complete the basic law enforcement academy course, known as the basic course, sponsored by the criminal justice training commission, or the basic law enforcement equivalency certification, known as the equivalency course, provided by the criminal justice training commission. All officers employed on June 13, 2002, must have successfully completed the basic course, the equivalency course, or the supplemental course in criminal law enforcement, known as the supplemental course, offered under chapter 155, Laws of 1985. Any officer who has not successfully completed the basic course, the equivalency course, or the supplemental course must complete the basic course or the equivalency course within fifteen months of June 13, 2002.

     (2) Fish and wildlife officers are peace officers.

     (3) Any liability or claim of liability under chapter 4.92 RCW that arises out of the exercise or alleged exercise of authority by a fish and wildlife officer rests with the department unless the fish and wildlife officer acts under the direction and control of another agency or unless the liability is otherwise assumed under an agreement between the department and another agency.

     (4) Fish and wildlife officers may serve and execute warrants and processes issued by the courts.

[2003 c 388 3; 2002 c 128 4; 2000 c 107 212; 1998 c 190 112; 1993 sp.s. c 2 67; 1988 c 36 50; 1987 c 506 16; 1985 c 155 2; 1980 c 78 17. Formerly RCW 77.12.055.]

Notes:     Effective date -- 1993 sp.s. c 2 1-6, 8-59, and 61-79: See RCW 43.300.900.      Severability -- 1993 sp.s. c 2: See RCW 43.300.901.      Legislative findings and intent -- 1987 c 506: See note following RCW 77.04.020.     Effective date -- Intent, construction -- Savings -- Severability -- 1980 c 78: See notes following RCW 77.04.010.


77.15.080 Fish and wildlife officers Inspection authority.

(1) Based upon articulable facts that a person is engaged in fishing, harvesting, or hunting activities, fish and wildlife officers have the authority to temporarily stop the person and check for valid licenses, tags, permits, stamps, or catch record cards, and to inspect all fish, shellfish, seaweed, and wildlife in possession as well as the equipment being used to ensure compliance with the requirements of this title, and may request the person to write his or her signature for comparison with the signature on the license. Failure to comply with the request is prima facie evidence that the person is not the person named on the license. For licenses purchased over the internet or telephone, fish and wildlife officers may require the person, if age eighteen or older, to exhibit a driver's license or other photo identification.

     (2) Based upon articulable facts that a person is transporting a prohibited aquatic animal species or any aquatic plant, fish and wildlife officers and ex officio fish and wildlife officers have the authority to temporarily stop the person and inspect the watercraft to ensure that the watercraft and associated equipment are not transporting prohibited aquatic animal species or aquatic plants.

[2002 c 281 8. Prior: 2001 c 306 1; 2001 c 253 23; 2000 c 107 233; 1998 c 190 113.]

Notes:     Purpose -- 2002 c 281: See note following RCW 77.08.010.


77.15.085 Seizure without warrant.

Fish and wildlife officers and ex officio fish and wildlife officers may seize without a warrant wildlife, fish, and shellfish they have probable cause to believe have been taken, transported, or possessed in violation of this title or rule of the commission or director.

[2000 c 107 232.]


77.15.090    Search, arrest warrant Issuance Execution.

On a showing of probable cause that there has been a violation of any fish, seaweed, shellfish, or wildlife law of the state of Washington, or upon a showing of probable cause to believe that evidence of such violation may be found at a place, a court shall issue a search warrant or arrest warrant. Fish and wildlife officers may execute any such arrest or search warrant reasonably necessary to their duties under this title and may seize fish, seaweed, shellfish, and wildlife or any evidence of a crime and the fruits or instrumentalities of a crime as provided by warrant. The court may have a building, enclosure, vehicle, vessel, container, or receptacle opened or entered and the contents examined.

[2001 c 253 24; 2000 c 107 234; 1998 c 190 117; 1980 c 78 26; 1955 c 36 77.12.120. Prior: 1947 c 275 22; Rem. Supp. 1947 5992-32. Formerly RCW 77.12.120.]

Notes:    Effective date -- Intent, construction -- Savings -- Severability -- 1980 c 78: See notes following RCW 77.04.010.


77.15.092 Arrest without warrant.

Fish and wildlife officers and ex officio fish and wildlife officers may arrest without warrant persons found violating the law or rules adopted pursuant to this title.

[2000 c 107 213; 1998 c 190 114; 1987 c 506 19; 1980 c 78 20; 1971 ex.s. c 173 2; 1961 c 68 3; 1955 c 36 77.12.080. Prior: 1947 c 275 18; Rem. Supp. 1947 5992-28. Formerly RCW 77.12.080.]

Notes:      Legislative findings and intent -- 1987 c 506: See note following RCW 77.04.020.      Effective date -- Intent, construction -- Savings -- Severability -- 1980 c 78: See notes following RCW 77.04.010.


7232-12-287 Possesion of dead wildlife

(1) Except as authorized by permt of the director or by subsection (2) of this section, it is unlawful to posses wildlife found dead. This rule does not prohibit the possesion of naturally shed antlers of deer, elk or moose. (2) An individual may remove and dispose of wildlife found dead on his or her own property or an adjoining public roadway. Before removing the wildlife, the individual shall, by telephone, notify the department or the Washington State Patrol communications office, and shall provide his or her name, address, telephone number, and the description and location of the wildlife. The individual may remove the wildlife for disposal only, and may not retain the wildlife for personal use or consumption. Other laws and rules apply to the disposal, including rules of the department of health (wac 246-203-120). Wildlife removed under this section remain the property of the state.

 

77.15.094 Search without warrant Seizure of evidence, property Limitation.

Fish and wildlife officers and ex officio fish and wildlife officers may make a reasonable search without warrant of a vessel, conveyances, vehicles, containers, packages, or other receptacles for fish, seaweed, shellfish, and wildlife which they have reason to believe contain evidence of a violation of law or rules adopted pursuant to this title and seize evidence as needed for law enforcement. This authority does not extend to quarters in a boat, building, or other property used exclusively as a private domicile, does not extend to transitory residences in which a person has a reasonable expectation of privacy, and does not allow search and seizure without a warrant if the thing or place is protected from search without warrant within the meaning of Article I, section 7 of the state Constitution. Seizure of property as evidence of a crime does not preclude seizure of the property for forfeiture as authorized by law.

[2001 c 253 25; 2000 c 107 214; 1998 c 190 115; 1987 c 506 20; 1980 c 78 21; 1955 c 36 77.12.090. Prior: 1947 c 275 19; Rem. Supp. 1947 5992-29. Formerly RCW 77.12.090.]

Notes:    Legislative findings and intent -- 1987 c 506: See note following RCW 77.04.020.     Effective date -- Intent, construction -- Savings -- Severability -- 1980 c 78: See notes following RCW 77.04.010.


77.15.100 Forfeited wildlife and articles Disposition Department authority Sale.

(1) Unless otherwise provided in this title, fish, shellfish, or wildlife unlawfully taken or possessed, or involved in a violation shall be forfeited to the state upon conviction. Unless already held by, sold, destroyed, or disposed of by the department, the court shall order such fish or wildlife to be delivered to the department. Where delay will cause loss to the value of the property and a ready wholesale buying market exists, the department may sell property to a wholesale buyer at a fair market value.

     (2) When seized property is forfeited to the department, the department may retain it for official use unless the property is required to be destroyed, or upon application by any law enforcement agency of the state, release the property to the agency for the use of enforcing this title, or sell such property and deposit the proceeds into the *state wildlife fund established under RCW 77.12.170. Any sale of other property shall be at public auction or after public advertisement reasonably designed to obtain the highest price. The time, place, and manner of holding the sale shall be determined by the director. The director may contract for the sale to be through the department of general administration as state surplus property, or, except where not justifiable by the value of the property, the director shall publish notice of the sale once a week for at least two consecutive weeks before the sale in at least one newspaper of general circulation in the county in which the sale is to be held.

[2000 c 107 235; 1998 c 190 63.]

Notes:

  *Reviser's note: The "state wildlife fund" was renamed the "state wildlife account" pursuant to 2005 c 224 4 and 2005 c 225 4

 

Landowner Laws

RCW 77.36.040 Payment of claims for damages Procedure Limitations.

 

(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.]


RCW 77.36.030 Trapping or killing wildlife causing damage -- Emergency situations.

(1) Subject to the following limitations and conditions, the owner, the owner's immediate family member, the owner's documented employee, or a tenant of real property may trap or kill on that property, without the licenses required under RCW 77.32.010 or authorization from the director under RCW 77.12.240, wild animals or wild birds that are damaging crops, domestic animals, or fowl:

     (a) Threatened or endangered species shall not be hunted, trapped, or killed;

     (b) Except in an emergency situation, deer, elk, and protected wildlife shall not be killed without a permit issued and conditioned by the director or the director's designee. In an emergency, the department may give verbal permission followed by written permission to trap or kill any deer, elk, or protected wildlife that is damaging crops, domestic animals, or fowl; and

     (c) On privately owned cattle ranching lands, the land owner or lessee may declare an emergency only when the department has not responded within forty-eight hours after having been contacted by the land owner or lessee regarding damage caused by wild animals or wild birds. In such an emergency, the owner or lessee may trap or kill any deer, elk, or other protected wildlife that is causing the damage but deer and elk may only be killed if such lands were open to public hunting during the previous hunting season, or the closure to public hunting was coordinated with the department to protect property and livestock.

     (2) Except for coyotes and Columbian ground squirrels, wildlife trapped or killed under this section remain the property of the state, and the person trapping or killing the wildlife shall notify the department immediately. The department shall dispose of wildlife so taken within three days of receiving such a notification and in a manner determined by the director to be in the best interest of the state.
[1996 c 54 4.]


RCW 77.12.315

Dogs harassing deer and elk Declaration of emergency Taking dogs into custody or destroying Immunity.

 

If the director determines that a severe problem exists in an area of the state because deer and elk are being pursued, harassed, attacked or killed by dogs, the director may declare by emergency rule that an emergency exists and specify the area where it is lawful for fish and wildlife officers to take into custody or destroy the dogs if necessary. Fish and wildlife officers who take into custody or destroy a dog pursuant to this section are immune from civil or criminal liability arising from their actions.

RCW 77.15.240   Unlawful use of dogs Public nuisance Penalty.

 

(1) A person is guilty of unlawful use of dogs if the person:

     (a) Negligently fails to prevent a dog under the person's control from pursuing or injuring deer, elk, or an animal classified as endangered under this title;

     (b) Uses the dog to hunt deer or elk; or

     (c) During the closed season for a species of game animal or game bird, negligently fails to prevent the dog from pursuing such animal or destroying the nest of a game bird.

     (2) Unlawful use of dogs is a misdemeanor. A dog that is the basis for a violation of this section may be declared a public nuisance.

 

 

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