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

LINCOLN COUNTY - A Wausau man needed to go to the hospital after an ATV crash in Lincoln County.

Deputies and firefighters were called to the Town of Harrison Saturday afternoon about 1:15.

A 40-year-old Wausau man had been hurt in an ATV crash on County Highway B near Ski Hill Road.

The man was brought to Saint Mary's Hospital in Rhinelander, where he was listed in good condition as of Sunday night.

+ Read More

MARATHON COUNTY - One man has died and three others are seriously hurt after a two-car crash in Marathon County late Sunday afternoon.

According to the Marathon County Sheriff's Office, police got a call about a crash at the intersection of County Highway N and County Highway Y in the Town of Norrie.

Crews took the three hurt people to Aspirus Wausau Hospital.

Police will not yet release the names.

The accident reconstruction team will investigate.

+ Read More

MILWAUKEE - A New Jersey woman who was hit by a baseball during batting practice before a Brewers game in 2014 has now sued the team.

Dana Morelli of Glendora, New Jersey, claims the Brewers and their insurance company were negligent because they didn't provide an adequate barrier. The 47-year-old says they also didn't give fans proper warning about the danger of foul balls.

+ Read More

LAWRENCE - A 36-year-old Oneida man has died after police say he drove his car the wrong way on Interstate 41 and crashed into two other vehicles near the town of Lawrence.

+ Read More

MILWAUKEE - The attorney for a man suspected of plotting to attack a Masonic center in Milwaukee has asked for eight weeks to review evidence against his client.

+ Read More

LAC DU FLAMBEAU - Sunday morning, Lac du Flambeau welcomed a new event to the community.

The first Carry the Torch 5K and kids' run took place at the Lake of the Torches Casino.

+ Read More

MCNAUGHTON - After almost seven hours of fighting fire Saturday night, a fire chief calls a house just north of Rhinelander likely a total loss.

Newbold Fire Chief Mark Fetzer said crews got the call around 10:30 p.m. Saturday about a house filling with smoke on Spider Lake Road.

Newbold and Pine Lake Fire Departments were the first to arrive.

According to the Pine Lake Fire Rescue Facebook page, the fire was on the second floor. Firefighters first went in the house to try to put out the fire but had to put it out from the outside because the roof started falling in.  

Fetzer called it a "persistent" and "stubborn" fire because the house had several layers to its roof. 

Crews called in mutual aid from several surrounding fire departments including Crescent, Pelican, Nokomis, Rhinelander , Lake Tomahawk, Minocqua, Woodruff, Little Rice and Cassian. Crews used the Pelican Fire Department ladder truck to help get the fire out. 

Fetzer said no one was hurt, but according to the Pine Lake Fire Rescue Facebook page, two firefighters were treated for heat exhaustion on scene. 

Fetzer said Newbold Fire will investigate the cause of the fire, and as of right now it does not appear to be suspicious.




+ Read More
+ More General News
Search: 




Click Here