Loading
Search
NEWS STORIES

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

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





 IN OTHER NEWS

EAGLE RIVER - Before you head out on an outdoor adventure this summer, you might want to check your packing list.

Tom Stephens and his wife, Jessica Allen, own The Hiker Box in Eagle River.

They're used to helping people get ready for outdoor trips, including camping, hiking, or kayaking.

They say packing food, water, fire starters and emergency blankets are crucial.

Clothing is important, too, right down to what socks you wear.

+ Read More

RHINELANDER - One Rhinelander man dedicated his life to giving back to the city and taking care of its natural resources. Now he's getting recognized for all his work.

+ Read More

NORTHWOODS - One bird population flies high this summer. In the Northwoods, grouse numbers are up 30 percent.

+ Read More

Play Video

CRANDON - Many people move to the Northwoods to retire. But some Forest County retirees still want to be productive and make a little money.

That's where the Senior Snoop Shop in Crandon comes in. The shop sells handcrafted pieces made by senior citizens in the area.

+ Read More

LAKE TOMAHAWK - Lake Tomahawk's snowshoe baseball games provide entertainment throughout the summer for the Northwoods and visiting tourists.

2014 was the last time the field got new mulch. To prepare for this season, the league got a whole new field of mulch put in with help from the Pukall Lumber Company.

+ Read More

Play Video

TOMAHAWK - A Northwoods racetrack plans to put on a world-class show for former NASCAR driver next week.

But the Tomahawk Speedway will now have several hours of extra work ahead of them after someone used the Tomahawk Speedway Sunday night when the track wasn't even open.

+ Read More

GREEN BAY - Former Green Bay Packers running back Ahman Green is jailed in Brown County, Wisconsin, on suspicion of child abuse.

Online records show Green was booked into the jail Monday on a possible charge of child abuse-intentionally causing harm for an incident that occurred Sunday. Green was expected in court Monday afternoon.

+ Read More
+ More General News
Search: 





Click Here