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.
RHINELANDER - Wisconsin will get a new state attorney general this election year.That could mean new changes for the department.
But many of the candidates agree that more needs to be done to deal with heroin in Wisconsin.
Police and prosecutors say the drug continues to spread throughout the state. Republican candidate Brad Schimel, Waukesha County district attorney, believes heroin and opiates are one of the state’s biggest challenge.
"We're seeing more people die from accidental drug overdoses than we're seeing in car crashes," Schimel said. "That is a dangerous statistic for us to be looking at."
According to a Gannet Wisconsin Investigative study, at least 199 people died in 2012 in Wisconsin from drug overdoses.
The legislature has passed several bills this session to fight heroin and help people who are addicted to the drug.
State Rep. Jon Richards-(D) Milwaukee, is one of three Democratic candidates running for attorney general. He believes the state needs to keep going after drug traffickers.
"Local prosecutors and law enforcement are already stretched to the max in terms of their man power," Richards said. "We have to be addressing these new problems of public safety in creative ways and effective ways."
Democratic candidates Susan Happ and Ismael Ozanne were not available before running this story.
Richards was touring the Northwoods Friday talking to media and district attorneys in the area.
The Democratic primary is set for August 12th. Election day is Nov. 4, 2014.
ST. GERMAIN - We all love our favorite sports teams. But what would happen if you had to dress up in your rival's gear? That's exactly what happened to Bears fan, Jerry Healy.
He's the janitor at St. Germain Elementary School. Healy challenged the students to raise over $700 for charity. If they did he'd wear the green and gold.
“Mr Healy you're unbelievable thank you for doing this,” says Jerry Healy, St. Germain Elementary School Janitor. “One kid said, "all this is disgusting Mr. Healy,” and another little kid who's a diehard Packers fan came up he came up and he's got an orange and blue pair of pants on and goes I'm a bears fan, today you're a packer fan, and that was pretty cool he's in second grade.”
As you can see the students surpassed the goal. The money went to pennies for patients. It’s an organization that supports people diagnosed with leukemia. The challenge brought the whole school together.
“Well I think they rose to the occasion they understood they're helping others in an easy but fun way. They came together as a class, as a whole school and just had a lot of fun with it,” says Jeff Waltz, a third grade teacher at St. Germain Elementary School.
This wasn't the first time Jerry got to dress up as a Packers fan. He did the same thing a few years ago when students accomplished a reading goal.
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