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Old 10-01-2015, 12:21 PM   #1
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Default Poaching rare plants increasing problem

I have never come across someone digging up a plant during all the years of hiking/camping the we have done. But I talk to those whose job it is to spend their days in our wild places and it is true this is becoming a bigger problem. Taking all the surrounding soil shows a better educated poacher. These criminals do more lasting damage as they take even the soil microbes and spores or seeds surrounding the plants to try and create essential conditions for growing. So please spread the word...Never dig plants from the wild!

Poachers seizing rare ‘on the brink’ native plants - Post and Courier

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A dug-up plant is likely to die. Spores of the plant, though, can lie dormant for years until the right conditions stir them. That’s why the poached plants are dug up in large clumps of the soil where they are found, and the loss of that soil alarms naturalists even more — there’s no way to keep the plant from disappearing if the soil does.
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“Huge, huge holes in three dozen places, maybe 1,000 pounds of soil and the plants it contained, had been removed,” said orchid enthusiast John Brubaker, of Awendaw, about the theft of a patch of the wildflowers he prizes in the Francis Marion. Brubaker has twice recently stopped people he came across from digging up rare plants. “It’s been a major problem in the past few years,” he said.
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Old 10-01-2015, 01:13 PM   #2
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"Jeff Jackson, of the S.C. Native Plant Society has seen holes dug in the best habitats too. One time, he came up behind a truck carrying a fully grown, dug-up native azalea plant out of the forest."

When I read this from the article I questioned myself, what would I do in such a situation? What would anyone do? Would I pull this person over and challenge them on WTF they were doing or would I take their plate number and call it into the authorities? I'd like to think I'd do the former but I'm a wimp even though the second choice seems like it would be completely ineffectual.

My take away from this article was the shocking fact of how much soil was stolen along with the mother plants. These people knew what they were doing. That's scary. These are not people who want an orchid growing in their backyard, these are big time propagators who are extremely unethical.

I think declaring a rare and endangered area and limiting accessibility is unfortunately the best solution. We have several small pristine prairie remnants in Kentucky that you need permission to access but I do see the reason for it. When it comes down to being able to go out and see these areas freely and appreciate them and the loss of such special places due to poachers I vote for more protection.

I've been able to see some really special places with untouched colonies of orchids only after finding people who trusted me to keep the secret of the location and knowing I'd never dig one plant. It is a magical experience to encounter such a place. It's unfortunate that there are so many unethical people out there who will exploit such a place for personal gain.
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Old 10-02-2015, 07:50 PM   #3
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Originally Posted by linrose View Post
[I[/I]When I read this from the article I questioned myself, what would I do in such a situation? What would anyone do? Would I pull this person over and challenge them on WTF they were doing or would I take their plate number and call it into the authorities? I'd like to think I'd do the former but I'm a wimp even though the second choice seems like it would be completely ineffectual.
Confronting a poacher ourselves does not seem like a good idea, but calling the authorities might at least get some attention on the problem in the immediate locale.

Though finding someone with the authority or inclination to take the crime serious enough to act quickly, might be difficult. So I understand what you mean.
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Old 10-03-2015, 07:57 PM   #4
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I caught folks illegally cutting down trees once. Knew who to call and they said they were coming but it is not like they were responding Code 3 with lights. After watching too much to take, I injected myself into the situation. Told them I had called and the authorities were on their way. The bad guys were not happy with me. Said it was none of my business. We exchanged other pleasantries. Had a lit cigarette held close enough to my face that I could feel the heat. Got out of there without being touched. Never heard if anything happened but when I went back, no more trees had been cut but the trees that were down were gone.

I know Ohio has problems with people digging up rare wildflowers but the wild ginseng poachers are normally the ones who make the news when they get caught.
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