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Caution about possessing dead protected species

By Staff | Feb 26, 2021

Many wildlife species are protected against “takings,” whether you end up with them in your possession by killing them or by finding them dead. I have twice run into people who found dead birds along the highway, which they didn’t know were protected species.

They thought it was a shame the beautiful birds were killed, and thought maybe someone could use the feathers for tying fishing flies or other uses — and that this would mean the bird had not died in vain!

It’s a noble thought, but you could get yourself in trouble. Below is part of the regulations regarding such species from West Virginia Code Chapter 20-2-4, Natural Resources: Possession of Wildlife. Note the italics is mine, and not original to the code text.

(e) Wildlife, except protected birds, elk, spotted fawn and bear cubs, killed or mortally wounded as a result of being accidentally or inadvertently struck by a motor vehicle may be lawfully possessed if the possessor of the wildlife provides notice of the claim within 12 hours to a relevant law-enforcement agency and obtains a non-hunting game tag within 24 hours of possession.

Ed Zahniser, of Shepherdstown