Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Two Men Sentenced For The Theft Of Plants In The Great Smokey Mountains National Park

As I have written on this blog in the past, the theft of resources from our National Parks is threatening native plant populations.  A well done goes out to the Ranger Staff at the Great Smokey Mountains National Park for the successful prosecution of two thieves stealing from us all.

The following information came from the National Park Service Morning Report for June 1, 2011.

Billy Joe Hurley, 42, and Jeffrey Hurley, 34, pled guilty in Federal Court to poaching charges for the illegal taking of American Ginseng within the Great Smokey Mountains National Park.

Billy Joe Hurley was sentenced to 75 days in jail and fined $5,540 in restitution to the park for possessing 554 wild ginseng roots.

Jeffrey N. Hurley was sentenced to 14 days in jail and fined $2,510 in restitution to the park for possessing 251 roots. He has appealed his conviction.

In late October 2010, as part of an ongoing investigation, a
ranger apprehended the Hurley brothers in the North Carolina area of the park with over 11 pounds of freshly dug roots that had been poached in one day’s time. The roots were later aged by park biologists. They determined that most of the roots were at least 10 years old, but that some of the larger ones were 30 to 40 years old. Each man was charged with possession of plants/parts (harvesting ginseng). The offense carries a maximum misdemeanor penalty of up to six months in jail and/or fine of up to $5,000.

“Due to the high market value of ginseng, the illegal harvest of this plant continues to be a serious problem in Great Smoky Mountains National Park,” said Clay Jordan, the park’s chief ranger. “In the international and domestic legal trade market, wild ginseng can bring between $500 and $800 per pound of dried roots. The larger and older the root, the more profitable and valuable it is.”

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