Raleigh, N.C. — House lawmakers voted overwhelmingly Thursday to make the theft of Venus flytraps a felony in the four North Carolina counties where it grows wild.
The measure, House Bill 1059, is one of three current legislative proposals to toughen penalties for stealing the carnivorous plants.
Sponsor Rep. Ted Davis, R-New Hanover, told the House that Venus flytraps grow wild only within a 100-mile radius of Wilmington.
"Nowhere else in the world," Davis said. "If it goes extinct, it's gone."
The plant is rated as endangered in the wild.
Davis said thieves recently stole thousands of the plants from a natural area near Wilmington. He said conservationists have asked for tougher penalties for poachers to help prevent another such theft.
He pointed out that, under state law, it's also a felony to steal pine straw or ginseng.
"There may be plenty of pine straw, and there may be plenty of ginseng plants, but there are only a few Venus flytraps," he said.
The measure now goes to the Senate.