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

RIB MOUNTAIN - Granite Peak in Wausau wants to expand, but some people don't want that to happen. 

The Granite Peak ski area held a meeting Wednesday evening to discuss those plans. The public was invited to hear about the expansion and to get answers to any of their questions.

+ Read More

MADISON - The University of Wisconsin Law School has notified more than 1,200 former applicants that they could be at risk of identity theft because the school's database was hacked.

The university says Social Security numbers from 2005 to 2006 applicants were recently compromised. The Law School has taken down the affected server as a result and added a firewall to better protect that data.

+ Read More

Play Video

ELCHO - If you pass through Elcho, you can't miss the hundreds of Christmas lights as you drive down Highway 45.

The Elcho Christmas staple is all thanks to a couple who spends weeks setting up the display, after they spend most of their time saving lives.

Carl Bloechl and Lissa Iwanoski are both EMTs. Carl is also a R.N. in Antigo.

For four years now, the couple sets up decorations at an office building off of Highway 45 in Elcho.

It takes a couple of weeks and they use their time in between shifts to get the job done.

"We just hope we don't get called. Sometimes we do get called and we just drop it all and leave it out here and go," said Bloechl.

The cold winter weather usually slows down the set up, but this year's warmer weather allowed the couple to enjoy the visitors earlier.

"It makes me feel good inside that they enjoy it too, because it is work," said Iwanowski.

The display will be on until the beginning of next year.

The lights stay on from around 4:00 p.m. through 11:00 p.m.



+ Read More

Play Video

PINE COUNTY - State politicians face a battle over paying for Wisconsin roads. This week, Assembly Speaker Robin Vos rode in an ambulance to show just how bumpy some roads are. One Price County woman had a real-life ride over rough roads in an ambulance. 

Not long ago, Sandy Krueger suffered a dislocated shoulder and sprained ankle after falling down a flight of stairs. An ambulance gave Kruger a painful ride over rocky roads to the hospital. Krueger says the EMT driver would even warn her when they were about to hit a "rough spot" in the road. 

+ Read More

LA CROSSE - The death of a woman initially thought to be the result of a freak accident on a La Crosse County road has now been blamed on her husband.

Forty-six-year-old Barbara Kendhammer, of West Salem, was found critically injured after authorities responded to a car crash Sept. 16. Her husband, Todd Kendhammer, told authorities a pipe fell from a truck as he was driving, broke through the windshield and hit his wife, who died the following day.

+ Read More

ANTIGO - With one of the coldest days of the season so far, most people probably chose to stay inside Wednesday.

But for people in Antigo it was the perfect day to get outside and cook up some chili.

Antigo held its annual chili cook-off. 

+ Read More

GREEN BAY - Students have left a Green Bay elementary school for the day after a mercury scare.

The students at Lincoln Elementary were dismissed at 4:30 p.m. Tuesday, about an hour after the normal time, after being checked for mercury.

+ Read More
+ More General News
Search: 





Click Here