W. Va. Code R. § 58-18-5 - Bear Damage Claims Procedures

Current through Register Vol. XXXVIII, No. 51, December 23, 2021

5.1. When a property owner has suffered damage to real or personal property as the result of an act by a bear, the owner shall file a report with the director of the division. A bear damage report shall be completed by an officer or wildlife biologist of the division and shall state whether or not the bear was hunted and destroyed or killed under authorization of a depredation permit and, if so, the sex and weight shall be recorded and a premolar tooth collected from the bear, all of which shall be submitted with the report. The report shall also include an appraisal of the property damage occasioned by the bear fixing the value of the property lost. Bear damage claims will not be accepted for personal and real property which is commonly used for the purposes of feeding, baiting, observing or hunting wildlife, including, but not limited to, hunting blinds, tree stands, artificial feeders, game or trail cameras and crops planted for the purposes of feeding or baiting wildlife.
5.2. Claims associated with damage to bee hives require a copy of the owner's current apiary certificate of registration as in accordance with the provisions of W. Va. Code § 19-13-4. Claims which do not have a current apiary certification of registration as of the date the damage occurred are not eligible for payment from the bear damage fund.
5.3. The investigating officer will assist the property owner in completing the appropriate forms for claims in which the value is set by the Section based upon current market prices in consultation with state and federal agricultural agencies and in which assessment guidelines and forms have been developed by the Section including, but not limited to, claims associated with corn [grain and silage], fruit trees, livestock and bees. In these situations, three estimates of value are not required.
5.3.a. The property owner must submit his/her completed Bear Damage Report form, with the completed assessment form(s) attached, to the investigating officer within thirty (30) days of the date of damage reported under Section 3.1 of this rule.
5.3.b. The investigating officer or biologist of the Division will then approve and submit the completed Bear Damage Report, with all of the completed assessment forms attached, to the director or his/her designee for final review and processing, within sixty (60) days of the date of damage reported under Section 3.1 of this rule. Bear damage reports which are requesting payment in excess of the maximum values established on the Section forms require additional proof justifying the higher values (i.e., a recent bill of sale or increased crop yield certified by the federal government or another agricultural entity).
5.4. Claims associated with real and personnel property not identified in section 5.3 of this rule will require three estimates of the cost of the damage to be provided with the completed Bear Damage Report form. One appraiser will be selected by the property owner, one appraiser will be selected by the investigating officer, and one appraiser will be selected jointly by the property owner and the Division.
5.4.a. The property damage assessment will be ruled upon and the alleged damages examined by a three-member appraisal review commission composed of the complaining property owner, the investigating officer or biologist of the Division, and a person to be selected jointly by the complaining property owner and the officer of the Division.
5.4.b. Each member of the appraisal review commission will decide if the damage claim is or is not valid.
5.4.b.a. If the appraisal review commission, by unanimous decision, decides that the damage claim is valid, the commission shall recommend a dollar amount to be paid to the property owner based upon the appraisal attached to the Bear Damage Report. The property owner must submit his/her completed Bear Damage Report form, with the completed assessment form attached, to the investigating officer within thirty (30) days of the date of damage reported under Section 3.1 of this rule.
5.4.c. The investigating officer or biologist of the Division will then submit the completed Bear Damage Report, with all of the completed assessment forms attached, to the director or his/her designee for final review and processing within sixty (60) days of the date of damage reported under Section 3.1 of this rule.
5.4.d. Claims will not be accepted for vehicle damage associated with the driver of a vehicle striking a bear on a public highway. Bear damage claims will be processed for bear damaging parked vehicles.
5.5. Payment of a bear damage claim will be made upon the receipt of a completed Bear Damage Report and validated claim which complies with the provisions of this rule.
5.5.a. If the director or his/her designee determines that either the property owner, selected appraisers or the appraisal review commission failed to properly comply with the provisions of this rule, he or she may direct the commission to reconsider its recommendation.
5.5.b. Bear damage claim payments shall be made in accordance with the provisions of W. Va. Code § 20-2-22a. All claims shall be paid in the first instance from the Bear Damage Fund: Provided, That the claimant shall submit accurate information as to whether he or she is insured for the damages caused by the acts of bear on forms prescribed by the director, and all damage claims shall first be made by the claimant against any insurance policies before payment may be approved from the Bear Damage Fund. Claims for an award of compensation from the Bear Damage Fund shall be reduced or denied in the amount the claimant is actually reimbursed by insurance for the economic loss upon which the claim is based. In the event the fund is insufficient to pay all claims determined by the commission to be just and proper, the remainder due to owners of lost or destroyed property shall be paid from the special revenue account of the division.
5.5.b.1. For those items which are covered under the property owner's insurance policy (i.e, vehicle, crop, homeowners), the property owner is required to submit a copy of his insurance policy to the officer or wildlife biologist, which clearly identifies the insurance deductible.

Notes

W. Va. Code R. § 58-18-5

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