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Ginseng Crackdown by DNR

Wild ginseng is harvested in Wisconsin woods and sold to businesses who then either process and market it themselves, or ship it out. Much of it is sent to Asia, where it finds use in tonics and herbal medicine. However, to do this legally, harvesters must be licensed, and anyone purchasing ginseng can only do so legally if the plant was harvested under DNR guidelines.

For example, ginseng cannot be taken from the wild until it has reached a size capable of bearing seed, and any seeds on the plant have to be sowed at harvest. Other DNR rules include a two-month season, running from September 1st to November 1st. Picking the plant outside this time frame is illegal.

Fines levied against one company, the Wiebke Fur and Trading Co., claim they violated this part of the statute: ”Harvesters must have a valid harvesters’ license in their possession at the time of harvest and sale, must show the license to conservation wardens upon request, and display it to wild ginseng dealers when selling the ginseng.”

Wiebke is accused of buying first and only then having harvesters get a license, which costs about $15 for Wisconsin residents. They are also said to have falsified origination certificates – paperwork that allows shipping ginseng across state lines or out of the country.

DNR Warden Edward McCann, quoted by WEAU, said, ““I think other companies need to realize that Wisconsin is very serious about enforcing our ginseng laws, and protecting this rare, but yet valuable plant.”

Ginseng is not considered addictive and, as long as the regulations are followed, is legal to possess and sell. But there’s a strange parallel with marijuana, another valuable plant that can be grown wild. The temptation is for harvester or growers to simply ignore the consequences of their actions, using the natural resources we all own as if they were personal property.


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