Rooting Out Root Poachers

Weekly news, tips, trivia, fun facts, and wild tales from the outdoors

Sept. 30, 2009

Rooting Out Root Poachers

Investigators in Ohio believe rising unemployment and a tough economy is
driving some ginseng diggers in the state to illegally harvest the root on
private land and out of season. We also bring you news about the milestone
reached by America’s most popular shotgun maker, and the latest states with the
dubious distinction of being leaders in deer/vehicular accidents.

J.R. Absher

Bad Economy Driving
Ginseng Poachers

For the past month, State Wildlife Officers from the Ohio Department of Natural
Resources Division of Wildlife have been contacting many Ohio ginseng
dealers and diggers as part of an ongoing investigation.

To date, Ohio wildlife officers have identified more than 30 individuals and
60 violations of Ohio law. As the investigation continues, authorities say
charges will likely include digging ginseng without landowner permission,
collecting or possession of ginseng during the closed season, failure to
maintain accurate records, and failure to certify ginseng prior to export.

The perennial herb is one of the most sought-after medicinal plants in the
world. American ginseng occurs from Quebec, Canada, west to Minnesota, and south
to Georgia and Oklahoma.

Ohio certifies about 3,000 pounds of ginseng for export annually. There are
46 licensed ginseng dealers in the state with an estimated 2,000 to 4,000
diggers. The number of diggers/harvesters varies annually depending on market

Last year, 3,626 pounds of ginseng were legally harvested in Ohio and sold
to dealers at around $400 a pound.

The value of the dried wild root fluctuates, and was as high as $1,000 per
pound in 2007.

W. Va. Tops In Deer/Vehicle Collisions, Again
For the third-straight year, data compiled by State Farm Insurance indicates
that drivers in West Virginia have the greatest likelihood of hitting a deer
with their motor vehicle.

Research shows that drivers in The Mountain State have a 1-in-39 chance of
hitting a deer during the next 12 months — a marked increase from last year’s
1-in-45 odds. Michigan ranked second with a likelihood of 1-in-78.

State Farm’s data also reveals that the number of vehicles on U.S. roadways
has grown by 7 percent over the last five years, certainly a contributing
factor to the rise in deer encounters. But the number of times those vehicles
have collided with deer has increased by an even greater margin.

The research estimates 2.4 million collisions between deer and vehicles
occurred in the U.S. during the two-year period between July 1, 2007 and June
30, 2009 — 18.3 percent more than five years earlier. That breaks down to one
deer/vehicle encounter every 26 seconds in the U.S.

Following the lead of West Virginia and Michigan comes Pennsylvania
(1-in-94) and Iowa (1-in-104). Montana (1-in-104) moved up three places to

Arkansas and South Dakota each dropped a spot to sixth and seventh. Wisconsin remained eighth, while North Dakota and Virginia round out the top

The bottom line: the average property damage cost of deer/vehicle incidents
is $3,050, up 3.4 percent from a year ago. 

Montana Anti-Trapping Initiative Moving Forward
Supporters of a ballot initiative that would ban furbearer trapping on public
land in Montana have been cleared to begin acquiring the 24,400 petition
signatures necessary to qualify the measure for the 2010 general election.

The Montana Secretary of State’s office concluded last week that Florence-based
Footloose Montana has until June 18, 2010 to obtain signatures from 5 percent
of the total number of qualified voters in Montana, including 5 percent in each
of the 34 legislative house districts. That translates into approximately
24,337 signatures to land the initiative on the November 2010 general election

The group claims it seeks to ban trapping on public lands in the state for
"scientific, public health and safety activities."

Terri Knapp, communications director for the Secretary of State, said the
initiative has been titled I-160 and bears the official name "Montana
Trap-Free Public Lands Act."

"The petition has been approved for signature gathering," Knapp
said. "This is a statutory amendment by initiative."

Remington Acknowledges 10 Millionth 870 Shotgun
In a full-page ad appearing in national newspapers last week, Remington Arms
revealed it has surpassed the 10-million mark in its production of the Model
870 pump shotgun, making it undoubtedly the best-selling shotgun in history.

In honor of the historic achievement, Remington has announced its "10
Millionth Model 870 Shotgun Sweepstakes.”

America’s oldest gun maker has manufactured the Model 870 continually since
its introduction in 1950. Although the company has produced multiple variations
of the Model 870 throughout the years — for hunters, trap shooters,
left-handers, youth, law enforcement and military — the Model 870 has remained
true to its original design. Gun owners worldwide appreciate the value and
quality of the Model 870, making it the shotgun appearing most often in
millions of cabinets and gun safes.

Quote Of The Week
"I speak for carp, fat on mud-bloat and algae,

orange-lipped lipper of algae surfaces,

round rotter of the banks of hydroelectric rivers.

Not the quick thin-meated trout

Darting his pretty life in the rare rocks of high streams."

-Greg Keeler
“Ode to a Rough Rish”
“Trash Fish-A Life,” 2008

J.R. Absher is a freelance outdoor writer whose articles and columns appear
in numerous national publications. He offers his unique perspective of the
outdoors weekly for You may contact him at

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