Loading
Search
NEWS STORIES

Northwoods poachers lurk in search of ginseng, big profitsSubmitted: 09/23/2013

Ben Meyer
Executive Producer
bmeyer@wjfw.com


NORTHWOODS - Not too many things sell for hundreds of dollars per pound, unless we're talking gold or silver.

But northern Wisconsin forests produce something that's worth about just as much as something you'd find in a jewelry store.

And in many cases, taking it is highly illegal.

Poachers lurk in the forests of northern Wisconsin.

But they're not on the hunt for rare animals.

They're looking for rare plants - and big profits.

"There's decent money involved in ginseng root," says DNR Warder Supervisor David Walz.

Illegal harvest of ginseng root is a growing problem in Wisconsin.

It's shouldn't be much of a surprise, with how much wild ginseng can sell for.

For example, last year, "it was around $700, $750 per pound," Walz says.

I'm out in the woods looking for ginseng with Ryan Magana.

He's not actually a poacher - he's an ecologist with the DNR.

"This plant has cultural value in East Asia, among other places, with East Asia being prominent," Magana says. "They're willing to pay a lot of money for this plant. It's important to them culturally and economically. They're willing to pay a lot."

That's true, in part, because wild ginseng can be really hard to find.

"It's going to be subject to herbivory by deer, poaching by humans, and it has to be in the right habitat," says Magana.

A lot of the mesic soil and forest in Wisconsin - that is, not too wet or dry - is good habitat for ginseng growth.

In fact, 95% of the country's wild ginseng is taken from Wisconsin.

Ginseng harvest season started three weeks ago and runs through November 1.

The DNR regulates it heavily because it's so rare.

No harvest is allowed on federal or state lands, and harvest on private land requires a permit, property-owner permission, and taking only mature plants.

But with the prices ginseng can go for, poachers often throw those rules out the window.

"That's an issue that we often times see, with the money involved in ginseng root, we get some trespass issues," Walz says.

I'm not even allowed to say you exactly where Magana and I were in the forest, for fear that the place where we're looking to identify ginseng would be pounced upon by poachers.

We spent an hour searching and found nothing.

If poachers had found some, gotten caught, and been convicted, they'd be on the hook for hundreds of dollars in fines.

But with how much wild ginseng can go for, it's no wonder they take the risk - even if our search turned up nothing.

Text Size: + Increase | Decrease -
| Print Story | Email Story
Sponsored in part by HodagSports.com





 IN OTHER NEWS

Play Video

RHINELANDER - Almost 12,000 people took a trip into history this year. But you only have one more day to check out the Pioneer Park Historical Complex in Rhinelander. The museum closes for the season Saturday.

+ Read More

PRICE COUNTY - Some of us owe a lot to our health clinics for keeping us healthy enough to celebrate our birthday every year.

But one local health operation celebrates a big birthday of its own this year.

Marshfield Clinic turns 100 this December, but  the clinics in Price County celebrated the milestone on Friday.

+ Read More

LAC DU FLAMBEAU - When people found a woman's body in Lac du Flambeau, police first thought she committed suicide -- something Newswatch 12 does not cover.

But Friday, the Vilas County Sheriff's Office confirmed it is investigating the 45-year-old woman's death as suspicious.

+ Read More

MADISON - Chronic wasting disease has turned up in a deer in another northern Wisconsin county.

The Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade, and Consumer Protection announced that a deer on an Oconto County hunting preserve tested positive for the disease.

+ Read More

Play Video

ONEIDA COUNTY - If you want to escape car exhaust, streetlights, and sirens, people in Oneida County know you don't need to pack for an extended trip.

Tucked away in western Oneida County, the Willow Flowage offers outdoor enthusiasts a year-round playground.

With 27,000 acres of undeveloped land and 6,000 acres of pristine water, the Willow Flowage reminds a lot of people of Canada...almost.

+ Read More
Rhinelander Homecoming parade Submitted: 09/30/2016

RHINELANDER - Construction did not stop Hodag pride Friday night.

Green and white spilled into downtown for Rhinelander's homecoming celebration.

The dance team showed off its moves and the football team rolled down Brown Street.

The homecoming parade got students, parents, and even grandparents to come out in support.

"I am here to see my grandson, he is on the court, "said Elsa Burke.

Hodag jerseys and green facepaint lined the street as the RHS band and flag twirlers marched.

There definitely was a lot to look at, but football seemed to be the only thing on some people's minds.

"To see the Hodags come home with a W. That would be good," said RHS student Jacob Mahner.

The varsity football game kicks off at 7 p.m. tonight against the Medford Raiders.



+ Read More

MADISON - A judge has ordered an investigation into whether transportation officials have been denying people temporary photo ID to vote.

U.S. District Judge James Peterson issued the order Friday after media reports surfaced that transportation officials refused to issue a temporary ID to a man without a birth certificate.

+ Read More
+ More General News
Search: 




Click Here