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North Carolina Enacts Venus Flytrap Theft Laws: How Big Is The Problem, Really?

Venus flytrap
David McAdoo
Flickr/Creative Commons

Did you know that picking a Venus Flytrap in North Carolina can now land you two years in prison? The law, enacted earlier this week,  is meant to protect the Venus Flytrap, a rare carnivorous plant that only grows in the wild in swamps near Wilmington.

It's estimated that there are only 35,000 plants remaining in the wild. The plant's numbers have dwindled in part because of people stealing them from protected lands.

One of WUNC's staff members, Eric Mennel, explored the Venus Flytrap poaching problem for his independent podcast Criminal. He reports that for the last few years tens of thousands of Venus Flytraps have simply gone missing every year.

"What’s cropped up in rural North Carolina is essentially a Venus Flytrap crime ring — with lackies, middle men, and a mysterious end buyer who’s perpetuating the market." Listen:

A new law has now been enacted to try and curb Venus Flytrap poaching.  Offenders can receive two years in jail, and can be fined per plant.

Carol Jackson has been with WUNC since 2006. As Digital News Editor, she writes stories for, and helps reporters and hosts make digital versions of their radio stories. She is also responsible for sharing stories on social media. Previously, Carol spent eight years with WUNC's nationally syndicated show The Story with Dick Gordon, serving as Managing Editor and Interim Senior Producer.
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