Shoe leather, high tech catch plant poachers

Capital News Service
LANSING — While uprooting a plant may seem harmless, conservationists say the environmental consequences of removing ginseng could someday be severe. The plant is highly vulnerable due to high market demand, especially in Asia where it is made into supplements. The native plant is already considered endangered in Michigan. That’s why conservation officers and high-tech methods are in place to prevent poachers who break laws elsewhere from coming to Michigan, where the plant is on the state list of threatened species. A 1994 state law regulates the harvesting, sale and distribution of American ginseng, according to the Michigan Department of Natural Resources (DNR).

Poachers target Michigan orchids

Capital News Service
LANSING — Poaching commonly brings to mind ivory tusks from protected African elephants or the silky fur of the endangered Bengal tiger. What’s often neglected is plant poaching — stealing rare and endangered plants from public lands for profit or for possession. In the Great Lakes region, some of the most commonly poached plants are goldenseal, American ginseng — and rare orchids. Goldenseal and American ginseng are valued due to medicinal claims. Rare orchids are valued by collectors for their beauty and scarcity. “Demand will make a market – it’s no different from drugs,” says Frank Telewski, curator of the W.J. Beal Botanical Gardens at Michigan State University.

Poachers, trespassing hunters could face higher fines

Capital News Service
LANSING — Deer poachers might soon be paying big bucks for illegally killing big bucks in the Great Lakes State. A pair of bills in the Senate aim to deter hunters from trespassing on farmland, as well as increasing penalties for poachers who target large-antlered deer by tacking on additional restitution fees. Ypsilanti resident Jim Pryce, president of the Tri County Sportsmen’s League in Saline, authored a resolution for the Michigan United Conservation Clubs (MUCC) that inspired the legislation. “Here in Michigan we have devalued the big bucks,” Pryce said. “Right now it doesn’t matter if you look at a 10-point buck or small buck, the fine is only $1,000 for poaching.”