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Three charged in poaching of rare Venus flytrap plants

Posted January 24, 2012
Updated January 25, 2012

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— The Venus flytrap, a rare carnivorous plant that only grows in southeastern North Carolina and northeastern South Carolina, had three Brunswick County people facing charges Tuesday. 

Kasey Gerald Whaley, Joyce Zarol Whaley and Elizabeth Ann Whaley, all from Shallotte, are accused of trying to steal 200 of the protected plants from The Nature Conservancy's Green Swamp Preserve on Monday. Stealing the plants without the landowner's consent is a Class 2 misdemeanor.

Debbie Crane, a spokeswoman for the Nature Conservancy based in Durham, said Venus flytraps are common targets for poachers.

"There are just some people who always want to do something illegally, and what we've found is that, in general, the people poaching these plants, their fathers poached," Crane said.

Though Crane said the black market for the plants is appealing to buyers, it's not especially profitable for poachers. The Venus flytraps are illegally sold for prices as low as 10 cents a piece.

They are small, Crane said, but they have science fiction appeal.

"I think people are a little disappointed when they see them because they are so small, but they are very beautiful and truly amazing," she said.

Poaching threatens Venus Flytraps in NC Poaching threatens Venus Flytraps in NC

North Carolina is working to preserve the plants by protecting them under state law and growing them at the botanical gardens in Chapel Hill. 

"There may be uses for the Venus flytrap that we haven't even thought of yet," Crane said. "It's so important that we keep them going."

The plants that were uprooted at the swamp preserve were all replanted, and are expected to survive.

"Life and nature are so amazing," Crane said. "Anytime you lose a piece of that, you lose all prospects."

45 Comments

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  • Con Amor brings luv and laughter Jan 26, 12:12 p.m.

    You can get em at the Home Depot all day long..

  • Mom2two Jan 25, 4:13 p.m.

    VFT are found naturally only within a 70-100 mile radius of Wilmington, and nowhere else in the world. It is our state carniverous plant. It eats insects because the sandy soil is nutrient-poor. They are one of the first plants to spring back after a fire, but are threatened with extinction because of illegal poaching. If you buy one make sure it is legally cultivated. They are indeed, very cool!

  • hdew2 Jan 25, 3:30 p.m.

    VenusFlyTrapCare.com has alot of information about them.

  • bombayrunner Jan 25, 1:45 p.m.

    criminals for the most part are just plain low IQ folks ... and the folks that they sell to are suckers.

  • wildcat Jan 25, 12:39 p.m.

    They all should have been charged. They were stealing and its against the law.

  • Hammerhead Jan 25, 12:32 p.m.

    I said they could be purchased at Lowe's earlier ( and they probably can be ), but I meant to say that I saw them at Home Depot last weekend, so they may be in some of their other stores also.

  • BigUNCFan Jan 25, 12:24 p.m.

    can't they be grown in a greenhouse or something like that?

  • MindBomb Jan 25, 12:21 p.m.

    Really need to check my speeling next time....lol

  • pinehorse Jan 25, 12:21 p.m.

    "Their fathers poached." Obviously she's not a LEO as that off-the-cuff comment may come back to bite her and TNC. BTW: TNC has no law enforcement personnel so people tend to view their land as being "preserved" but not patrolled and protected.

  • sandiegom22 Jan 25, 12:21 p.m.

    "Stealing the plants without the landowner's consent is a Class 2 misdemeanor"

    I know this is actually misworded but it's kind of funny. So if you steal the plants with the owners consent it's ok.

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