Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Park Rangers Catch More Plant Thieves

The following incident occurred at Cumberland Gap National Historic Park and appeared in the National Park Service Morning Report for Tuesday September 22. One again Park Rangers caught individuals stealing plants from a National Park.

Cumberland Gap NHP

Three Ginseng Poachers Caught

On September 16th, ranger Brad Cope came upon a vehicle parked adjacent to the park boundary in an area known for ginseng poaching. The vehicle was registered to a man who was suspected of ginseng poaching from prior contacts in the park. Rangers launched an operation that consisted of covert surveillance on the vehicle and park boundary, an undercover vehicle, and a take-down vehicle. Three men walked out of the park boundary and placed a backpack in the trunk of the vehicle, which was stopped about a half mile down the road. The three men, identified as Mark Seals, Todd Reynolds and Bryan England, were interviewed and provided conflicting information on their activities. All three had evidence of digging on their clothing and hands. Rangers conducted a search of the vehicle and found the backpack in the trunk with approximately 401 ginseng roots in three separate bags. They also discovered three large screwdrivers used to dig up the roots and a walking stick. In depth interviews revealed that the three men were digging and collected all the ginseng that they could find in the park. They also provided a wealth of information regarding past activities, describing the number of plants and dollar amounts on what they
had earned from digging in the park. The green ginseng roots weighed approximately three pounds. Rangers Cope and Greg Johnston are case agents.

[Greg Johnston, Park Ranger]

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