Raleigh, N.C. — A measure that strengthens the penalty for stealing Venus flytrap plants sailed through the House Judiciary C Committee on Wednesday.
The bill ramps up the punishment for stealing the plants from a misdemeanor fine to a Class H felony, which could result in jail time even for first-time offenders.
Sponsor Rep. Ted Davis Jr., R-New Hanover, said the bill will help protect the rare plant, which grows only in a small pocket of the state surrounding Wilmington.
“This plant is so unique, not only in the type of plant, but its location,” Davis said.
A massive theft resulting in the loss of hundreds of plants made the need for a stringent penalty clear, he said, adding that he hopes the penalty will deter thieves.
The felony provision applies only to New Hanover, Brunswick, Pender and Onslow counties. Lawmakers said it is unusual, but not unheard of, for a local bill to deal with felonies.
Committee members said it is possible the Senate’s regulatory reform bill will amend its language to include harsher penalties statewide for Venus flytrap theft.