NEWS RELEASE #03-206 September 29, 2003 DNR News (803) 734-3950
RARE VENUS FLYTRAP PLANTS STOLEN FROM HORRY COUNTY HERITAGE PRESERVE
The S.C. Department of Natural Resources Law Enforcement Division and Wildlife Diversity Section are investigating the theft of about 100 native Venus flytrap plants from Lewis Ocean Bay Heritage Preserve in Horry County.
"Last week, about 100 Venus flytrap plants were found to have been dug up or removed from the 9,300-acre Lewis Ocean Bay preserve, located north of US Highway 501 between Myrtle Beach and Conway," said Jamie Dozier, a Wildlife Diversity Section biologist with the S.C. Department of Natural Resources (DNR).
The apparent "plant poaching" occurred on at least two sites within the preserve, Dozier said. Both sites are part of an ongoing research project being conducted by Dr. James O. Luken from Coastal Carolina University.
"Lewis Ocean Bay preserve is home to the largest population of naturally occurring Venus flytrap plants in the state or possibly within its natural range in the two Carolinas," Dozier explained. "Large expanses of bay habitat on the preserve support at least 15 known populations. Venus flytraps are increasingly rare and a plant species of special concern."
Naturally occurring plant populations are also found on the Cartwheel Bay Heritage Preserve in northwest Horry County; however, plant collecting and habitat destruction pose a threat to the survival of the species, Dozier said. "The Venus flytrap is of special concern to us in the two Carolinas," he said. "Worldwide, the Venus flytrap is only native within a 100-mile radius of Wilmington, N.C."
Theft or destruction of the Venus flytrap on Heritage Trust property is a violation of DNR regulations, according to Natural Resources Enforcement Sgt. Stan Woodle in Horry County. "Any person convicted of abuse or destruction of DNR-owned land or property could be charged up to $455 for each violation. Anyone with information on this case is urged to call the DNR, Operation Game Thief and Coast Watch Hotline at 1-800-922-5431. A reward is offered for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the person or persons responsible."
Nursery or greenhouse-raised Venus flytraps are legally sold at roadside produce and garden stands and some home improvement stores. However, the origin of the plant is sometimes questionable. Before purchasing a Venus flytrap from your local vendor, Dozier encourages the consumer to verify the plants origin to ensure that it's a greenhouse-raised plant and was not illegally collected in the wild.
- Written by G. Michael Willis -
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