Loading
Search
NEWS STORIES

Northwoods poachers lurk in search of ginseng, big profitsSubmitted: 09/23/2013

Ben Meyer
Managing Editor / Senior Reporter
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

RHINELANDER - Rhinelander firefighters responded to a house fire off Boyce Drive early Sunday. The department got the call around noon.

Pine Lake and Pelican fire also responded. Firefighters say when they arrived they could see smoke coming out of the roof.

+ Read More

EAU CLAIRE - Some Wisconsin students are still learning cursive, even though it's not required in the Common Core education standards.

The Leader-Telegram reports that elementary students in the Eau Claire school district, the Chippewa Falls school district, Altoona schools and Regis Catholic Schools all learn cursive.

+ Read More

MADISON - Wisconsin officials are working to determine how to improve the statewide emergency communications network and who will pay for it.

Wisconsin Public Radio reports the Wisconsin Interoperable System for Communications allows public safety agencies to communicate with one another across the state, and sometimes coverage can be spotty. The state hired a consultant last year to examine networks in surrounding states and provide recommendations for maintaining Wisconsin's system.

+ Read More

Play Video

MINOQUA - Students often create projects for class, but it isn't every day that students create projects for regional competitions. Many Northwoods students gathered in Minocqua to compete in a history day competition.

"This year's theme is called taking a stand in history," said Lakeland Union High School's Department Chair of Social Studies Mike Mestelle.

+ Read More

Play Video

ROTHSCHILD - The Latest on a shooting in northern Wisconsin that left a police officer and three others dead (all times local):

4:45 p.m.

The police detective killed in a string of shootings that left three others dead and the suspect injured is being remembered as a friend who would help another in a heartbeat.

Forty-year-old Jason Weiland was a detective for the Everest Metro Police Department. He died Wednesday when he was shot in the line of duty.

+ Read More

WASHINGTON - UPDATE: 3-24-17, 4:00pm:  Ryan bemoans collapse of health care bill:

Speaker Paul Ryan says the collapse of the House Republican health care bill means former President Barack Obama's health care law will be around for the foreseeable future.

The Wisconsin Republican addressed reporters minutes after GOP leaders abruptly shelved the legislation, averted likely defeat for the bill. But it still dealt a damaging setback to President Donald Trump, Ryan and an entire party that has long said it wants to annul Obama's statute.

+ Read More

Play Video

MARATHON COUNTY - People living in the Aspen Apartments in Weston said they're still shaken up by shootings from two days ago.

Neighbors who lived in the same building as the suspect, Nengmy Vang, say some of them have been allowed to come back to their apartments today.

+ Read More
+ More General News
Search: 





Click Here