Loading

51°F

54°F

54°F

55°F

51°F

53°F

54°F

58°F

51°F

52°F

58°F

54°F
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

NORTHWOODS - Many people travel to the Northwoods for the fourth of July. 

That means there can be a lot of extra traffic.

Wisconsin State Patrol makes sure it's ready for the holiday.

It has more people staffed on busy holiday weekends.

+ Read More

Play Video

RHINELANDER - A plea deal may be close for one of the suspects in an Oneida County murder.

33 year old Latoya Wolf faces a charge of being a party to a murder in Rhinelander. The murder happened in 2003.

The Tomahawk woman is the niece of Kenneth Wells, the man who was killed. Police found Wells dead in the Wisconsin River in 2003.

+ Read More

Play Video

PARK FALLS - Kelly Meredith's paint-splattered uniform and face tell us what she does.  But the Butternut muralist prefers to think of her job as a historian.

"Those stories need to go out to the rest of us," Meredith said.

Brush stroke by brush stroke, Meredith went to work this spring, painting the uniforms and faces of Northwoods World War II veterans and bringing their stories back to life.

"They weren't gods and heroes," Meredith said. "They're ordinary people who overcame their fear and the courage and dignity to basically save the world."

+ Read More
Police prepare for 4th of JulySubmitted: 07/03/2015

MINOCQUA - You can find tourists all over the Northwoods already for the holiday weekend.

That means area police departments are busy making sure everyone stays safe.

The Minocqua Police Department has all of their officers working extended hours on July 4th, but the police chief says they worry more about safety than law enforcement.

"[The] 4th of July is more family-oriented," says Minocqua Chief of Police Dave Jaeger. "You have a lot of families down there with their children, so we're down there to make sure that it's a safe environment."

Places like Minocqua will be packed with people this weekend, so police just want to make sure holiday events go on safely.

"We mainly focus on, during the parade, we do the re-route, and we have officers on the parade route in case there's any type of issues or accidents that may occur, that we have to respond to," says Jaeger.

The Minocqua Police Department also works with the chamber of commerce and public works to make sure everything goes smoothly.

+ Read More

Play Video

NORTHWOODS - As people start getting ready for the 4th of July, many will camp here in the Northwoods.

The DNR expects almost 3,000 people to camp in the Northern Highland-American Legion State Forest this weekend.

The DNR thinks this will be their best 4th of July yet, with almost all of the campgrounds full.
People say there's nothing better than camping in the Northwoods.

"We like to come up to the Northwoods because it's beautiful and the water's crystal clear," said Prairie Farm resident Peter Fetting. "The other campers are always really friendly, and I've been coming up here for 30 years. This is my 30th year coming up here to camp."

People already got a head start heading out to beaches and on the water Friday. Campers say more people should come enjoy the woods this summer.

+ Read More

WISCONSIN RAPIDS - A cracked lime kiln has caused a fire that damaged the Verso paper mill in Wisconsin Rapids.

+ Read More

Play Video

MADISON - Wisconsin could force drunk drivers to pay in more money to support SafeRide Home programs in the state.

Earlier this week, we told you the state was planning to kick in less money to support county SafeRide Home programs. The program offers free taxi rides home from bars.

A proposal passed by a Capitol committee on Thursday night could help SafeRide Home.

It would add a $50 surcharge to some OWI offenses. That money would go back into SafeRide Home programs.

The proposal is part of the state budget, which has yet to become law.

+ Read More
+ More General News
Search: 




Click Here