© Bruce McNitt/Panoramic Images (Virginia)

Protecting Endangered Species and Habitats

Non-Game Fish and Wildlife Laws

In its laws dealing generally with hunting and trapping, the Commonwealth of Virginia has declared it unlawful “to hunt, trap, take, capture, kill, attempt to take, capture or kill, possess, deliver for transportation, transport, cause to be transported…any wild bird or wild animal…except as specifically permitted by law” (VA. CODE ANN. § 29.1-521(A)(10)).

Virginia law provides for a voluntary contributions, through a check-off on individual tax returns, to a state fund for the “conservation and management of endangered species and other nongame wildlife,” defined as “protected wildlife, endangered and threatened wildlife, aquatic wildlife, specialized habitat wildlife both terrestrial and aquatic, and mollusks, crustaceans, and other invertebrates under the jurisdiction of the Board of Game and Inland Fisheries” (VA. CODE ANN. § 58.1-344.3(B)(1)).

Threatened and Endangered Species Laws

Virginia prohibits the “taking, transportation, possession, sale, or offer for sale within the Commonwealth of any fish or wildlife” appearing on the federal list of threatened or endangered species (VA. CODE ANN. § 29.1-564). In addition, the state Board of Game and Inland Fisheries may issue a regulation declaring that species not appearing on the federal list are threatened or endangered in Virginia, and may also issues regulations prohibiting their taking, transportation, processing, or sale (VA. CODE ANN. § 29.1-566). Exceptions to the taking, possession, and transportation prohibitions may be made for “zoological, educational, or scientific purposes and for propagation of such fish or wildlife in captivity for preservation purposes.” (VA. CODE ANN. § 29.1-568).

Virginia also has an Endangered Plant and Insect Species Act. Under this law, the state board is authorized to issue regulations listing plant or insect species as threatened or endangered and restricting actions with respect to these species (VA. CODE ANN. § 3.2-1002(A)). Individuals may not “dig, take, cut, process, or otherwise collect, remove, transport, possess, sell, offer for sale, or give away” plant or insect species listed by law or regulation as threatened or endangered, except on their own land (VA. CODE ANN. § 3.2-1003). The law provides an exception for permits issued by the Commissioner in limited circumstances (VA. CODE ANN. § 3.2-1004). The Commissioner may undertake programs necessary for the management of threatened or endangered plant or insect species (VA. CODE ANN. § 3.2-1001). 

    1. Basis of Listing

    2. Regulatory Protection of Special Habitat Areas that Mention Endangered or At-Risk Species

        The state treasury has the authority to create the Virginia Land Conservation Fund (VA. CODE ANN. § 10.1-1020(A)). Monies from this fund may be used to acquire land for the protection and preservation of threatened or endangered species, as well as fish and wildlife habitat (VA. CODE ANN. § 10.1-1020(A)).

    3. Consultation Requirements

        Before amending Virginia’s list of threatened and endangered plant or insect species, the state board must consider recommendations made by the Director of the Department of Conservation and Recreation, as well as any investigations conducted by the state Board of Game and Inland Fisheries to develop information regarding “population, distribution, habitat needs, limiting factors, and other biological and ecological data...” (VA. CODE ANN. § 3.2-1002(B)). 

    4. Recovery Plans 

    5. Penalties

        Violations of both the state’s endangered species laws and the Endangered Plant and Insect Species Act are considered class one misdemeanors (VA. CODE ANN. §29.1-567).

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