Poaching Increases As Ginseng’s Price Rises
They slink through the woods in camouflage and face paint, armed with tire irons, screwdrivers and hoes, seeking a plant that looks like a cross between a Virginia creeper and poison ivy. They’re the new breed of ginseng diggers, a rough and tumble lot looking to parlay rising Asian demand for the increasingly rare plant’s roots into a fast buck.
Amid a sluggish economy, police say, more diggers are pushing into the backcountry from the upper Mississippi River to the Smoky Mountains in search of wild ginseng, eschewing harvest permits, ripping up even the smallest plants and ignoring property lines.
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