Northwoods poachers lurk in search of ginseng, big profitsSubmitted: 09/23/2013
Ben Meyer
Ben Meyer
Managing Editor / Senior Reporter

Northwoods poachers lurk in search of ginseng, big profits
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


Play Video

RHINELANDER - Downtown Rhinelander turned into a sea of green on Saturday.

The St. Patrick's Day Parade brought in hundreds down to Brown Street.

Green beer, good food and great music made for a perfect St. Patrick's Day.

While most people wore their green clothes proudly, Mike Lamarre from Suring Wisconsin didn't get the memo.

"My eyes are green that's it," said Lamarre.

Lamarre came to Rhinelander with one thing on his to do list.

+ Read More

Play Video

WESTON - A Weston company hosted a so-called "bus-rodeo." The event served as an open house for the Lamers Bus Company.

The goal of the event is to see if people are interested in a job as a bus driver. People who visited could get behind the wheel and take a bus for a spin.

+ Read More

Play Video

FOREST COUNTY - A DNR technician went to check on timber sales in Forest County on Thursday. In between checks he found what he thought was an abandoned car in the woods. It turned out to be a woman stuck in the snow for a few days.

Jason Headson and his partner Sam were out checking on timber when they saw a parked vehicle.

"We noticed some movement in the car," said Headson.

They approached the small, grey sedan, which had its hood up. Then they discovered an elderly woman in the car.

+ Read More

Play Video

ARBOR VITAE - Hospice workers help people in their finals days. 

It's a hard job that sometimes goes unnoticed.

That's why co-workers and community members took the time Friday to honor one social work at Dr. Kate Hospice in Arbor Vitae.

+ Read More

Play Video

THREE LAKES - A Three lakes Special Education Director started a program with a dream and $500. She hoped a coffee shop would teach students social and life skills but what came out of it went far beyond her expectations.
"My philosophy is dream to inspire," said Three Lakes Special Education Director Deb Straus.
Twenty- three years ago Straus dreamed of creating life experiences for her students.
"Everyone has something to offer to this world that we live in," said Straus.

With a $500 grant Straus made her dream come true with an in-school Coffee House.
"This is like my safe place," said Three Lakes sophomore Christinia Kubiak.
The baristas and bakers are pretty recognizable to Three Lakes teachers and students.
"It's been fun getting things set up in the morning," said Three Lakes sophomore Rain Maves.
Some of the students have worked at the weekly Coffee House before class for years.

+ Read More
Time for ice shacks to moveSubmitted: 03/16/2018

NORTHWOODS - Melting ice means moving time for fishermen.

You have until Sunday to get ice shanties off the lakes.

This applies to all lakes north of Highway 64.

DNR Conservation Warden Chris Bartelt says if you refuse to move your shanty you could face more than a $250 ticket.

+ Read More

Play Video

RHINELANDER - Billboards popped up in several places around Wisconsin this week calling Rebecca Dallet "Double-Talk Dallet."

The Republican Party of Wisconsin, which paid for the ads, points to the Wisconsin Supreme Court candidate accepting money for her campaign from attorneys who have cases she presides over.

Dallet told Newswatch 12 during a Friday morning stop in Rhinelander that her opponent, Michael Screnock, took hundreds of thousands of dollars from special interest groups.

The current Milwaukee County circuit judge thinks the state supreme court needs to be fair and independent.

+ Read More
+ More General News

Click Here