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

Dec 3, 2014

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.

Venus flytrap.
Credit David McAdoo / Flickr/Creative Commons