I just got here last night and today I found this news story.
[QUOTE] Posted on Sat, Jun. 11, 2005
R E L A T E D C O N T E N T
The brilliant white flowers of the Venus' flytrap make the tiny plants easy to find during the late spring, when most poaching of the popular plant occurs. Authorities discovered signs that a number of flytraps had been taken recently from the Nature Conservancy Green Swamp in Brunswick County, N.C. CHARLES SLATE/The Sun News
Poachers snare rare Venus' flytraps
Removal of carnivorous plants increases threat to delicate species
By Brock Vergakis
The Sun News
One of the world's most unique and rare plants is disappearing from Brunswick County, N.C.
This time, it's not rapid growth and development threatening the Venus' flytrap.
Poachers, to be exact.
Hundreds of Venus' flytraps were taken from the nature preserve in the Green Swamp this past week, said Dan Bell, project director for the Nature Conservancy.
The only place in the world the carnivorous plant grows naturally is in coastal bogs in the Carolinas within about 100 miles of Wilmington, N.C.
The plant once grew along the entire coast of North and South Carolina, but development destroyed much of its habitat and today it can be found in its natural habitat only in secluded spots such as Green Swamp or Lewis Ocean Bay Heritage Preserve in Horry County.
The plants can be grown from existing tissue culture in greenhouses and are widely available nationwide, sold for usually no more than a few dollars.
Whoever took the plants probably is trying to sell them to a nursery for no more than 15 cents a piece, said Marj Boyer, a N.C. Department of Agriculture botanist.
"If you go to an area that has a lot of Venus' flytraps and you have the right tools, you can have a few hundred plants," Boyer said.
That's exactly what happened last week.
And last year.
And the year before.
"It's a long-standing problem," she said.
The Venus' flytrap is one of two plants that continuously is poached in North Carolina. The other is ginseng, which grows in the mountainous regions of the state and can be sold for about $1 per root. Poaching of ginseng probably will start in August, she said.
However, it's already prime Venus' flytrap poaching season.
"This is the time of year we see most of the problems. That's because the rest of the year flytraps are small and nondescript and are not easy to pick out," Bell said.
Those who poach can face large fines - up to $500 for a first offense and $1,000 for a second offense.
But poachers are rarely caught.
"Part of the frustration is you literally have to catch them in the act. Short of that, there's really nothing I can do to punish or do to catch a poacher," Bell said.
Those who grow the plants are allowed to sell them. But there's no documentation needed to prove the plants aren't stolen.
The Nature Conservancy can't have someone watching the 15,000-acre Green Swamp all the time either, Bell said. And neither does he want to.
"It's frustrating for us to try and offer this property for the public benefit. But when you have people come in and do things like this makes us wonder: Why do we have it open to public? We want to have opportunities for visitors to come in and see and appreciate how nice they are," he said.
He fears if poaching of the Venus' flytrap continues, future generations won't be able to see one of the most fascinating plants in the world grow in its natural habitat anymore.
"These are an incredibly unique natural feature of this area. There's rapidly diminishing habitat and you can find them in abundance in a handful of places," he said. "If we continue to have people go in there and go poaching, it will knock populations down and won't be viable."