North Carolina man convicted for ginseng poaching in Smoky Mountains | News
News
INDY Week's news blog

Archives | RSS

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

North Carolina man convicted for ginseng poaching in Smoky Mountains

Posted by on Wed, Aug 19, 2015 at 11:37 AM

click to enlarge PHOTO BY USCHICK VIA WIKIMEDIA. USED UNDER CREATIVE COMMONS LICENSE 3.0
The Smoky Mountains are perhaps the largest fully protected reserve in the country for wild ginseng. The root is a valuable commodity, particularly in Asian markets, where it's used in medicines, teas and other health products. Reported reasons for ingesting the root include usage as an aphrodisiac or stimulant, type II diabetes treatment, and cure for sexual dysfunction.

But recently, the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, which covers parts of North Carolina and Tennessee, has been the target of illegal poachers, who sell the product on the black market, according to law enforcement officials.

Last week after a trial, a Bryson City man was sentenced to six months in a federal jail for illegal harvesting of the root. Billy Joe Hurley, 47, had dug up more than 500 ginseng roots from the park, stuffed them in a backpack, and then tried to hide it behind a guardrail beside a hiking trail.

During Hurley’s sentencing hearing, a special agent with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service testified that fresh ginseng can bring up to $200 per pound on the black market. A National Park Service botanist testified that the American ginseng species is under pressure from poachers and might not be sustainable if it continues to be harvested illegally.

According to the U.S. Attorney’s Office in the Western District of North Carolina, ginseng was abundant in the park until poachers started uprooting it. Each year, officials say, rangers seize between 500 and 1000 illegally poached ginseng roots. Park scientists claim that if poaching continues, the root could become nonexistent. Hurley’s case marks the fifth conviction for illegal harvesting of the root. The National Park Service replanted about half of the roots Hurley stole. 

Tags: , , ,

Pin It

Comments

Subscribe to this thread:

Add a comment

INDY Week publishes all kinds of comments, but we don't publish everything.

  • Comments that are not contributing to the conversation will be removed.
  • Comments that include ad hominem attacks will also be removed.
  • Please do not copy and paste the full text of a press release.

Permitted HTML:
  • To create paragraphs in your comment, type <p> at the start of a paragraph and </p> at the end of each paragraph.
  • To create bold text, type <b>bolded text</b> (please note the closing tag, </b>).
  • To create italicized text, type <i>italicized text</i> (please note the closing tag, </i>).
  • Proper web addresses will automatically become links.

Latest in News



Twitter Activity

Comments

It is about the guns, and the efforts of liberalsocialists to keep them out of the hands of victims.

by Pat Orsban on Politicians and the Gun Lobby Want You to Think Parkland Is About Something Other Than Guns. Don’t Let Them. (News)

Plenty of warning signs here. All ignored. No law would have stopped this. One law allowed the body count to …

by Pat Orsban on You’re Damn Right I’m Going to Politicize This Tragedy. You Should Too. (News)

Most Recent Comments

It is about the guns, and the efforts of liberalsocialists to keep them out of the hands of victims.

by Pat Orsban on Politicians and the Gun Lobby Want You to Think Parkland Is About Something Other Than Guns. Don’t Let Them. (News)

Plenty of warning signs here. All ignored. No law would have stopped this. One law allowed the body count to …

by Pat Orsban on You’re Damn Right I’m Going to Politicize This Tragedy. You Should Too. (News)

This should read "prescribe" not "proscribe," which has the opposite meaning.

by Jeffrey Vanke on Fox News Host Tucker Carlson Will Lecture UNC Journalism Students (News)

"There are fifty-five hundred residential units in downtown, up eighteen hundred from just a couple of years ago, and with …

by JeffG on DRA Report: Downtown Raleigh Is Still Killing It (News)

What does this clown know about journalism?

by John Sagar on Fox News Host Tucker Carlson Will Lecture UNC Journalism Students (News)

© 2018 Indy Week • 320 E. Chapel Hill St., Suite 200, Durham, NC 27701 • phone 919-286-1972 • fax 919-286-4274
RSS Feeds | Powered by Foundation