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
What We're Working OnSubmitted: 09/28/2016

- Tonight on Newswatch 12:

The rain we've had recently caused some problems with the potato harvest. We talked to potato growers in the Antigo area about how they think the season went.

Earlier this week the Northland Pines School Board approved drug testing. We'll tell you what it means for the students.

And we'll update you on the progress of the Rhinelander Ice Arena expansion.

We'll bring you the details on these stories and more tonight on Newswatch 12 - news from where you live.

+ Read More

STEVENS POINT - Stevens Point police want your help finding suspects in two possible stabbings.  The stabbings happened early Friday morning and early Sunday morning near downtown Stevens Point.

Friday, four young men got into a fight on Main Street. One man said he was stabbed in the chest.  Police say the suspect is a black man in his mid-20s, about 5' 9" tall, with a muscular build and short hair.  The victim was treated at the hospital and released.

Sunday morning, police responded to an incident at 2nd Street and Crosby Avenue. Witnesses heard glass breaking and people yelling about a stabbing.  Police don't have a victim or suspect description in that case, but they don't believe the two stabbings are connected.

If you have any information about the stabbings, call Detective Sgt. Gruber at 715-346-1518.

You can also call Portage County Crimestoppers to remain anonymous at 888-346-6600.

+ Read More

MADISON - Damage caused by flooding in Wisconsin already is getting close to $10 million dollars.

Wisconsin emergency management workers provided the estimate on damage to homes, businesses and public infrastructure.

In an update Tuesday night, the State Emergency Operations Center put the damage to homes and businesses at over $1.6 million dollars.

Damage to public infrastructure, including roads, bridges and trails, has reached over $8 million dollars.

The numbers should go higher, as some counties are still not reporting.

+ Read More

Play Video

TOWN OF LITTLE RICE - Dennis Schoeneck's pickup truck sloshes through muddy logging roads these days.  But he'd prefer it if a much larger truck could even make it down the path.

"Heck, I think you could spit and make mud here," the Enterprise Forest Products owner said Tuesday morning.

Foot-deep ruts make up most of the logging road leading back to 23 acres of private land the long-time logger harvests in the western Oneida County town of Little Rice.  Schoeneck started logging professionally in 1979 and says 2016 has been "exceptionally wet" compared to any other year.

"The old adage, make hay while the sun shines, that's not just for farmers," Schoeneck said.  "That's for us too."

+ Read More

Play Video

RHINELANDER - Firefighters never know exactly what to expect from a house fire, but they do know the safety of people and animals come first.

On Monday, local firefighters from Pine Lake and Sugar Camp rescued Emmy, a house cat, from her home in Sugar Camp.

"We actually have a pet rescue kit, it's an oxygen mask that we can put over their snout, their nose and mouth, and we can apply oxygen to them that way," said Pine Lake firefighter Blake Jensen.

The rescue kit worked, and Emmy regained her energy and gave her rescuers hope.

+ Read More

Play Video

BOULDER JUNCTION -
The Boulder Junction Town Board voted two to one Tuesday night to move forward with a town plaza plan. The plan will now go to a design phase. 

The board estimated the cost of the design phase to be between $30,000 to $50,000, but it was dropped to about $25,000 at the meeting.

Town Chairman Dennis Reuss and Town Supervisor Dennis Duke voted in favor, with Town Supervisor Denny McGann voting against the plan. 



A little more than $1 million may not seem like a lot of money to a city like Madison or Milwaukee. But for a town of fewer than one thousand people, it's a lot. The Boulder Junction Town Board could vote Tuesday whether or not to move onto the next phase of a $1.26 million town plaza project. 

Dennis Duke has a vision of what Boulder Junction could look like in a few years. 

"This one has a much more artistic flair, this has a more engineering flair if you will," said Duke while looking at potential design plans. 

+ Read More

Play Video

EAGLE RIVER - The streets in Eagle River got an extra wash on Tuesday and not just from the rain.

The Light and Water Utility spent most of the day flushing fire hydrants.

The city flushes the hydrants twice a year, once in the spring and fall.

+ Read More
+ More General News
Search: 




Click Here